The Sincerity of Love
"To prove the sincerity of your love." 2 Corinthians 8:8
True love is always active and benevolent. It is so in nature — see the mother with her child, mark the fond affection of the little one reciprocating a mother's kindness. See it in all the connections and relationships of life; and see it much more in the church of Jesus Christ. Faith produces love; and love always acts towards God in . . .
adoring His perfections,
praising His name,
consecrating the entire person to His service, and
making benevolent communications to His cause.
It acts towards the saints in . . .
preferring them to all other,
uniting with them in holy fellowship, and
working with them to promote the Lord's cause.
It acts toward lost sinners, in . . .
pleading for them, and
using means for their recovery.
Love is the bond of society, and the chief ornament of our nature.
God, as the Governor — requires it.
As a Sovereign — He promises it.
And as a Covenant God, by His Spirit He produces it.
When the Spirit comes to produce love in our hearts, He convinces us that we have it not. He grants us to see its beauty and excellency. Then the desire to possess and enjoy it springs up — then we seek it by earnest, fervent prayer — and by the gospel it is produced. Here . . .
the love of God to us is manifested,
pardon is procured,
provision for all our needs is promised,
the most lovely prospects are unfolded, and
the love of God being shed abroad in our hearts — love to God, to saints, to all — springs up.
The cross especially draws forth our love; sameness of nature causes it to fix on the saints; and while pursuing the same objects, we feel our love to each other increase and strengthen. But fellowship with God and His people, is that which more particularly sustains and increases our love one towards another.
Love, Christian love, professes . . .
to prefer Christ and His cause to everything besides;
to submit to His authority and acquiesce in His will;
to approve of and obey all His commands;
to choose and delight in His saints;
to sympathize with and relieve suffering believers;
and to be ready to every good work.
The proof of love is required. The proof of its sincerity, its purity, and its strength. God requires proof — and for this end His commands are given and His ordinances appointed. "This is the love of God — that we keep his commandments."
The church requires proof — hence her applications for assistance and the display of sympathy.
Sinners require proof; and strong proof too: and they are watching us, to see if we act as we profess, and walk according to our rule.
Circumstances will demand proof; as when the good Samaritan saw the poor Jew bleeding, gasping, and ready to die; he gave proof that he loved his neighbor by going to him and rendering him assistance; but the priest and Levite manifested that their pretensions to love were mere hypocrisy. Just so, when the Christian churches in Judea were tried with poverty, it proved the love of the Gentiles who sent them relief.
And this will account for some things which occur at present. Why are some saints you know, poor — very poor? To prove the sincerity of your love, to see whether your love is only in word — or whether you will assist them as you should. Why are some believers near you sick, and sick for so long a time? Probably to prove the sincerity of your love — whether you will visit, comfort, and relieve them — or not. Why does the cause of God need and call for support from us? To prove the sincerity of our love; and the proof of our love should be evident, so evident as to leave no room for doubt! It should be proved by . . .
costly sympathies, and
prompt and cheerful assistance.
Love, if felt — should be shown. Love, if possessed — will appear. It will appear in . . .
visiting the sick,
teaching the young,
defending the oppressed,
relieving the poor, and
working to assist the Lord's cause.
Faith should be crowned with love — and love should be crowned with convincing proofs!