Pearl of Great Value - Matt. 13:45-46

My Sermons and Studies

 

   Perfect Love, By Richard Kirby

 

A New Love

 

The surest indication that we have been born again is the new love we have for God and man. John says (in I John 3:14), We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death.” I think this is not speaking of the kind of fondness we have for our friends, or for people of our class and social group. Jesus pointed out that even the Publicans have that kind of love: “They love those who love them.

I believe that people who have been born again, who have passed from death to life, have a more intense and comprehensive love for other believers than they have for others of their social group or race. For example, I feel closer to a brother or sister of another race than I do for someone of my own race who is not a Christian. I think that’s how it should be.

In the normal course of things the Christian’s love begins with God, extends to our fellow believers, and very quickly radiates outward to encompass all people, even our enemies. So it is this supernatural love that we find in ourselves that most assures our hearts that we belong to Christ.

I John 3:16-19:  “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence.”

 

How do we set our hearts at rest and assure ourselves that we are in His love?  By having and showing real love—by actions. Love is not a feeling; feelings come and go.  Love is an act of the will, a decision to act with good will towards another. It is true that real love is often attended by affection, good feelings and warm regard. But not always. We are not expected to feel warm and cuddly towards people who are persecuting us. Feelings can’t be brought up or changed on commanded. But we can choose to do good to all men, to pray for them, and help them in their needs.

Nothing is easier than to greet someone, hug him or her, and tell that person you love him. But the real test is in how you treat the person over time. “…let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.” Faith always works through love (Gal. 5:6). And faith that does not produce love is a dead faith, and not saving faith.

James 2:14-17:  “What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? 15 Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”

Perfect Love

Perfect love is not driven by fear of punishment, but by a desire to please the loved One.

1 John. 4:16-18: “And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. In this way, love is made complete [been perfected] among us so that we will have confidence on the Day of Judgment, because in this world we are like him. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”

 

“Perfect love” could be translated “love in its fullness” “full-blown love.” It means LOVE behaving towards God and Man as it is supposed to behave. If we love God as we should we are not motivated by fear of punishment, but by a loving desire to please Him, and not to grieve Him in any way.

In that celebrated chapter 13 of I Corinthians, Paul describes the qualities of love.

1Cor. 13:4-8: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”

 

How do we get this love?

This kind of love is a work of God, an inward work of the Holy Spirit, which we gain by cooperating with God in our sanctification.

Romans 5:5: “And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” 

Galatians 5:22-24: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”

 

These are character traits that the Holy Spirit produces in us.  Derek Prince uses the analogy of a Christmas Tree and a Fruit Tree to illustrate the difference between spiritual gifts and the fruit of the Spirit. We can put a gift on a Christmas tree and take it off again, and put it back on. It’s not a part of the tree. But fruit is a part of the tree; it is organically produced by the tree itself. So it is with the fruit of the Spirit, including love. You and I are the tree. With spiritual gifts we receive them as a Christmas tree receives gifts, as something apart from ourselves. So we see in chapter 13 that one can have gifts in abundance and still be lacking it the fruit of the Spirit, love. But in the case of the fruit of the Spirit, the Holy Spirit produces fruit out of the tree itself, within our very character.

What can we do to encourage its growth? I wish I could give you a surefire answer.  I can help some, for I do see in myself more of that kind of love than I once had, and I’m pretty sure you can see more in yourselves too. So how do we cooperate with the Holy Spirit so that love will grow on the tree of our character?

1) first of all we must desire it, desire it passionately, and cry out to God for it. And we should cry out in faith, knowing it is God’s will for us to have it. We must ask in faith, nothing doubting, because God wants us to have it.

 Many hundreds of people, especially of the Methodist tradition, testify that they have been given that Perfect Love instantaneously, that coming to perfect love need not be a long, laborious work. Since it is God-given, and since it is received (like every other grace) by faith, we can be totally sanctified and receive perfect love in a moment of time. For me it is a laborious, long, and still-incomplete process.  But I don’t doubt the testimonies of most of these folks since their lives demonstrated uncommon joy, fruitfulness and spiritual victory.

2) We must repent and believe the Gospel. By this I mean we must let God continually show us where we come short in love, allow ourselves to be convicted of any unloving spirit or unloving way, and believe that He can and will perfect our love. As we walk in the Spirit, He shows us attitudes, dispositions, wrong-thinking of which we must repent.  Then we ask God to remove those sinful things and cleanse us of all unrighteousness. In this way we cleanse ourselves from every defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (II Cor. 7:1).

3) We must surrender our entire heart, will, life, future—everything to God.

Romans 12:1-2: “I beseech you therefore by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God.”

4) We must believe that we receive.

Mark 11:24 says, “Whatever things you desire when you pray BELIEVE THAT YOU RECEIVE THEM.”  In other words EXPECT THEM!  I John 5:14 and 15 says: “This is the confidence that we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will He hears us. [We know it is according to His will for us to love—He commands it!]  Verse 15, and if we know that He hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of Him.

In the final analysis everything we receive from God is by faith; the fruit of the Spirit, love, is no exception.  We ask and we receive because we ask in faith. If our faith is great, then our love can be great. If we can have faith for Perfect Love, then we can have Perfect Love. We can pray without ceasing, give thanks in everything, rejoice always, walk in the Spirit so as not to fulfill the lusts of the flesh. We can be filled with the Spirit, have the love of God shed abroad in our hearts, and be filled with all the fullness of God.

Let us never be content with anything else.  Amen