Love No. 1
by Charles H. Welch in The Berean Expositor.
"Though I . . . . understand all mysteries . . . . and have not love, I am
nothing" (I Cor. iii. 2).
We are daily adding to our knowledge of the deeper teaching of the Word; fresh
beauties shine forth from the sacred page; we seek increasingly "rightly to
divide the Word of truth," and with this increased knowledge and light one might
be led to imagine that spiritually nothing much was left to be desired. As we
read the Scriptures, however, light and knowledge are not put fort- most, love
is first and greatest and must be in all times the criterion of our true
spiritual advancement. When the Lord was questioned by the lawyer as to which
was the great commandment in the law, He replied:-
"Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and
with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is
like unto it. Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two
commandments hang all the law and the prophets" (Matt. xxii. 37-40).
It should be observed that heart love comes before that of the soul, or of the
mind. It is comparatively easy to love with the mind, to love in "word," or in
"tongue," but to love "in deed and in truth" (I John iii. 18) necessitates the
activity of the heart. When we notice the prayers of the apostle Paul in
Ephesians i. and iii., we find that while "the knowledge of Him" and "to know
what is the hope of His calling" are prominent in the first prayer, love figures
very largely in the second, "rooted and grounded in love," and "to know the
knowledge- surpassing love of Christ." In the practical section of Ephesians
(iv.-vi.) the apostle exhorts the believer to a worthy walk, and the central
occurrence of the word "walk" in that section is the exhortation to:-
"Walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given Himself for us an
offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour" (Eph. v. 2).
This high standard is the basis of the apostle's appeal in Eph. v. 25,
"Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church, and gave Himself for it."
When the apostle would pray for the advancement of the Philippians, although he
desired them to have "discernment" and ability to "try the things that differ,"
these were not the initial petitions. The Spirit of God knew only too well that
discernment without love is withering and harsh, and knowledge without love but
ministers to pride; therefore the apostle was led to pray first and foremost for
the overflowing of their love, "And this I pray, that your love may abound yet
more and more" (Phil. i. 9). In the Epistle to the Colossians the apostle speaks
of putting on the new man, and as a climax says, "And above all these things,
put on love, which is the bond of perfectness" (Col. iii. 14).
Let it be the earnest desire of every reader that our love shall keep pace with
our advance in knowledge, otherwise our words must be written off as "sounding
brass," and our knowledge as nothing worth. As space allows in subsequent issues
we hope to consider some of the aspects of this chief of graces, and first of
the Spirit's fruits, "ABOVE ALL . . . . LOVE."