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John Calvin puts forward a very simple reason why love is the greatest gift: “Because faith and hope are our own: love is diffused among others.” In other words, faith and hope benefit the possessor, but love always benefits another. In John 13:34–35 Jesus says, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Love always requires an “other” as an object; love cannot remain within itself, and that is part of what makes love the greatest gift.
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You are not to be surprised or discouraged because you find the flesh opposing you in your fellowship with the Lord. The more you minister and cater to the flesh*, the more will it intrude when you do not want it, or rather when you do not wish to be disturbed by it, and when you consider it an intruder. If you would be free from the flesh when praying, etc., you must be careful not to encourage it at other times.


People often think that they can do with the flesh what they can do with their clothes, that is, wear them and change them when they like; they think they can give their minds and thoughts to the things that please and gratify the flesh, and then in a few moments get rid of it, as one would a dress, and put on quite a different one, to come into the presence of the Lord. The flesh once encouraged, once allowed to be about you as a dress, it is not so easily put off, even though you may most truly desire to be fit for the presence of the Lord, and to be happy there.


This is in principle making the best of both worlds, and it cannot be. It must be either the Lord Jesus who died for men, or the man by whom He was crucified. It is when you desire to enjoy the presence of the Lord that you first discover that you have been cultivating a hindrance to it. Wrong man! You have been wearing natural clothes, and pleasing yourself; and then when you seek fellowship with the Lord, all these things, which have previously engrossed you, are like a mob refusing you leave to pass the way you desire.


It is a good sign when you feel this mob, because it shows that you are not content with being absent from the Lord, but yet, on the other hand, it shows that you have been tampering with the enemy, instead of refusing all his offers, so as to be ready dressed at all times to be in the presence of the Lord.


The more and longer we are away from Him, the less we feel it, and the less we are conscious of the mob which hinders and depresses us. The more we wear common every-day clothes, and like them, the less do we care for state robes. We are not aware of our defects until we come in contact with that which is vastly superior. Many a one thinks that he dresses very well until he comes to town, and then he sees how shabby he is; he did not feel his shabbiness before.


Thus it is with you; while you are happy and satisfied in your entanglements with those around us, your dress is in your own eyes nice enough; but when you would enjoy being in the presence of the Lord, you find that you have been fostering and surrounding yourself with things that will get no place there, and then you find that it is no easy matter to change your dress, and put on quite a different one.


The only way to secure constant joy in the Lord’s presence, that is, to be so dressed as to be unhindered there, is to seek His pleasure in the commonest details of our lives, not seeking anything for ourselves*, but the things that are pleasing in His sight. “Enoch . . . before his translation . . . had this testimony, that he pleased God” (Heb 11:5). Study to please the Lord, and thus you rebuke the tendency in your heart to please yourself, you keep off the common garments of the flesh, and you increase your taste for the dress that suits the Lord’s presence, which is simply a devoted heart.


- J B Stoney





Poster’s Opinion:

*”not seeking anything for ourselves”: Unless the author has another meaning intended here, I would agree that we are not to seek pleasure for ourselves before that of others, by putting self last, but I do not believe it to be wrong to seek to please self (new self of course—never the old) in the proper manner and timing, for it is declared in Scripture that “God, gives us richly all things to enjoy” (1Tim 6:17).


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