"Do you love Me more than these?" John 21:17
We may, we ought to love our relations, friends, and neighbors; but Jesus requires and deserves our highest love. He should be first in our esteem — for He is most excellent. Toward Him our veneration should be directed — for He is truly divine and glorious. And to Him we should be most firmly and devotedly attached, for He is, "altogether lovely."
Look at His LIFE as recorded by the Evangelists — and see how just, punctual, prudent, kind, benevolent, and full of attention He was. In Him, every virtue shone forth in its fullness and perfection — and in Him every attribute of God was to be revealed.
Consider His TEACHING. He communicated His own ideas of
divine subjects, which were just and correct; but almost totally different
from those of any other instructor. He opened the heart of God, and showed
us that it was love; assuring us that He "so loved the world, as to give His
only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish — but have
everlasting life." He clearly unfolded the most important and interesting of
all subjects — salvation; showing us its nature and perfection, and
how it may be obtained and enjoyed. He, in a word, revealed all that we need
to know as to . . .
the mind, intent, and purposes of God;
the state, condition, and destiny of man;
the way of escape from wrath — and of admission into the world of purity, beauty, and bliss!
But His infinite MERIT especially demands our love. He was great enough and pure enough to speak with God — and also engage for the salvation of sinners. He was kind enough and meek enough to speak to and provide salvation for man. He can fill the distance between an infinitely holy God — and depraved, polluted, and guilty man; and by the obedience of His life, and the atonement which He offered in His death — He can bring them together on easy and honorable terms. He has reconciled the justice of God — to the salvation of man. And He reconciles the heart of man — to the ways of God. He has removed everything out of the way of our acceptance at His Father's throne, and He removes everything from our hearts which would prevent our approaching with pleasure there.
Glorious Redeemer! your merit is boundless, and your worth infinite and eternal; who would not love you, and love you more than all things beside?
Glance but for one moment, also, at what He BESTOWS — and you must see at once His claim to our highest love. The very angels receive their happiness, security, and honor — from Him. His enemies, of the human family, are fed by His bounteous hand, and preserved by His Almighty power.
But it is His saints, more especially, who are indebted
to Him; He gives them . . .
His Spirit to instruct them,
His righteousness to justify them,
His blood to cleanse them,
His name to procure acceptance at the Father's throne,
His fullness to supply them, and
all that the wisest mind could devise — or the kindest heart bestow!
He gives grace and glory — with every other good thing under Heaven.
And yet many do not love Him; and of those who talk of doing so — it must be said that their love is doubtful. Not to God, for He knows their hearts; but to the saints who desire that all should love Him, and love Him above all. Yes, to themselves, for they cannot say they love Him with an unwavering tongue. If they do love Him at all — their love is not strong, vigorous, and fruitful; it is like a stunted shrub, which only tells of the barrenness of the soil. And many have good cause to doubt; look at the neglected Bible, the slighted closet, the forsaken sanctuary, and the forgotten God; they all shout, "You have left your first love."
But love to Jesus ought to be put out of doubt. "This is the love of God — that we keep His commandments." "If you love me — keep my commandments." By a cheerful acquiescing in His will; and by daily observing His commands, the whole of them — and even when we must make sacrifices to do so — we would put our love to Jesus out of doubt.
My Reader, do you love the Savior? Why do you love Him? Is your love warm, cheerful, operative? Do you love Him more than all things beside? Are you in doubt about it? Rest not until all cause for doubt is entirely taken away, lest that fearful sentence should fall like a thunderbolt upon you, "If any man loves not our Lord Jesus Christ — let him be accursed when the Lord comes." Does he not deserve to be cursed? Surely if a man does not love Jesus, who is altogether lovely, and who is his constant benefactor and greatest friend — his sin is as the sin of Sodom — flagrant and inexcusable!
Do I love You, O my Lord?
Behold my heart and see;
And turn each cursed idol out,
That dares to rival Thee!
You know I love You, dearest Lord,
But, Oh! I long to soar,
Far from the sphere of mortal joys,
That I may love You more!