Love For Christ
In this devotional study on the believer’s love for Christ, Mr. John W. Bramhall of Charlotte, N.C., takes us into two homes which we read about in the Gospels. His Insights, among other things, should help us understand how we may maintain and deepen our love for our Lord.
Let us visit two homes: the home of Simon the Pharisee and the home at Bethany where Mary, Martha and Lazarus lived. In the first one we can learn of love to Christ awakened, and in the other of love to Christ maintained and deepened.
Love Awakened (Luke 7:36-39, 47)
This awakening of love took place in the heart of a burdened sinner who entered uninvited into the home of Simon the Pharisee. Here was a woman of whom the Lord said, “She loved much.” Her sinful character is described by the Holy Spirit. She was “a woman in the city who was a sinner.” She knew it; Simon knew it; everyone knew it; but she was a burdened sinner who had heard words of grace and love from the Lord Jesus that melted her heart. Driven by her deep need and drawn by His grace, she boldly entered Simon’s home and stood at the feet of Jesus. It was the meeting of a hell-bound sinner with the heaven-sent Saviour.
Consternation and silence gripped the guests and the host himself. Would the Lord expose her and dismiss her from His presence? All felt that He should, but Christ can never condemn a confessing, repenting sinner. The silence was broken by the sobbing of this weeping sinner at the feet of her Saviour. Her broken and contrite heart was now won to Him as her tears expressed deep sorrow for her sins and the kisses upon His feet proved that her heart was His forever.
Was not our love for Christ similarly awakened? We discovered the One who knew the worst about us, and yet loved us, “even when we were dead in sins” (Eph. 2:4). Our love for Him was thus awakened and we were enabled to sing:
I’ve found a Friend, Oh such a Friend!
He loved me ere I knew Him;
He drew me with the cords of love,
And thus He bound me to Him.
Love Maintained (Luke 10:38-42)
How sadly true it is that following the awakening of love to Christ the freshness of our “first love” often wanes. “Thou has left thy first love” (Rev. 2:4), the Lord has to say; and for various causes we permit this to take place. Some believers make such slow progress in spiritual intelligence and growth, while others go on to develop lives of deeper fellowship with the Lord. How, then, may our devotion to Christ be maintained?
Our visit to this second home at Bethany provides the answer to our question. Love for the Lord had been awakened in the heart of both Mary and Martha, yet one grew deeper in grace and in the knowledge of her Saviour, while the other was hindered by self and over anxiety in her service. Why the difference? Well, Martha’s love sought to meet the material needs of her Lord, while Mary’s love sought to satisfy her Lord’s deep desire by sitting at His feet and listening to His voice. Martha was busily occupied with “many things” could only disappoint the “one thing more needful.” The many things,” while Mary chose “many things” could only disappoint and ultimately disappear, but Mary’s part, the Lord said, “shall not be taken away from her.”
Surely, sitting at His feet alone we can maintain our love for Christ. It is there we hear His words that reveal to us His heart. Only at His feet do we become students in the school of His love, where our devotion can be maintained. If we have left our first love, it is there that it can be regained.
Love Deepened (John 11)
It is also in the home at Bethany that we can learn how love for the Lord is deepened by the intense sorrows of life. Our everyday lives are frequently invaded by sorrows and trials. There are some occasions of deepest sorrow and trial which the Saviour permits for the purpose of deepening our love for Him, as perhaps no other way can
Sickness invaded the happy home at Bethany and the dark shadow of death hovered over the family circle, bringing intense gloom. The two sisters properly drew on the priceless love of Christ in their grief and desperation. “He whom thou lovest is sick” was their brief but urgent appeal which they sent to the Saviour. It was not an appeal on the ground of their love for the Lord Jesus, nor on the ground of Lazarus’ love for Him. Rather, having made their appeal to the right Person, their plea was on the basis of His love for their brother. The love of the sisters and of Lazarus for the Lord was feeble in comparison with His love for them, and so they left their deep sorrow and its great need in the hands of One who loved Lazarus with a perfect, unchanging and eternal love. Can we ever be disappointed by Him when we cast our sorrows on the boundless resources of His unfailing love? Never!
But it was to deepen their love for Him that the Saviour intensified their sorrow by allowing Lazarus to die before He arrived at Bethany. It was the way of His love, though perhaps very difficult for Mary and Martha to understand, as we can well appreciate. Nevertheless, the Psalmist wrote, “As for God, His way is perfect” (Psa. 18:30). Once patience had wrought her perfect work, the Lord Jesus arrived on the scene and they were privileged to witness one of the most amazing sights in the life and ministry of the Son of God on earth. They witnessed the tears of His own love for them, for we read, “Jesus wept” (John 11:35). These were not tears for Lazarus, for the Lord knew what He was about to do. Nor were His tears merely the evidence of His deep love for Lazarus, as the Jews thought. They were tears of deepest sympathy for the grief and sorrow in the hearts of the sisters, Martha and Mary. He was weeping with them. How could they ever have forgotten His tears on this occasion of sorrow and grief?
In the home of Simon we saw a sinner weeping in the presence of her Lord, but how far more sublime and marvelous to our hearts to see the Saviour of sinners weeping in the presence of sorrowful hearts, truly “touched with the feeling of our infirmities” (Heb. 4:15). It was in and through all this intense sorrow that Christ declared His love for them and deepened their love for Him. After the sorrow was past and their brother restored to life again, their greater love for Him was exhibited as they made Him a supper (John 12), where in happy communion the reunited family made Him the centre of their heart’s affection and devotion more than ever before.
Likewise, in our sorrows and trials, the Lord seeks to reveal the treasures of His love in greater measure and deepen the devotion and love of our hearts for Him. Would we wish to have it any other way?
Our visit to these two homes is finished. May the Lord help us to learn from our visit that at the feet of Jesus, as sinners, our love is awakened; at the feet of Jesus, as learners, our love is maintained; and at the feet of Jesus, through sorrows and trials, our love is deepened.
Low at Thy feet, Lord Jesus,
This is the place for me;
Here I have learned deep lessons,
Truth that has made me free.
Low at Thy feet, Lord Jesus,
Free from the ways of men;
Chains of thought that once bound me,
Ne’er can enslave again.
Only THYSELF, Lord Jesus,
Conquered my wayward will;
But for Thy love constraining,
I had been wayward still.