The Love Of Christ Constraineth Us
Let us make room for the love of God to be constantly shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit! If we permit anger, malice, evil imaginings, hatred, strife, envying, lustfulness, covetousness, unbelief – to harbor in our souls – the Lord will not force His love upon us – the Lord will not shed abroad in our hearts His own deep compassion for the souls of men.
The Dove of God’s Spirit will not brood in our hearts if we permit the unclean vultures of wrath and evil speaking and unkindness – and a host of other wicked, vile things to dwell there! Doves do not roost with buzzards!
Am I My Brother’s Keeper?
We see sinners all around us. Does the compassion of the Son of God well up in our hearts as we look on them? Do we recall that once we, too, were sinners, blind to God’s love? Do we manifest the love of Christ to the lost around us? Even if they cheat us in business, do we still search more to win them to Christ than to "get even" with them?
Are we willing, yes, eager to take joyfully the spoiling of our goods, that we might have an untarnished testimony before sinners? (Heb. 10:34).
When we see a brother or a sister in the Lord slipping away, getting lukewarm, do we point the finger at them, and think how much better we are than they? (Isa. 58:9; 65:5; Luke 18:9-14). Or do we earnestly pray for them, avoid gossiping at all about them, seek opportunity to warn them with tears? Are we alert for a chance to speak the truth, in love, to them? (Acts 20:31; Eph. 4:15; Jas. 4:11).
Are we grieved when other Christians fail God? Do we tell, if we must tell about their faults to anyone – do we tell such things with real tears of sorrow? (Phil. 3:17-19).
In short, do we do to others as we would that they should do to us? (Matt. 7:12). Do we in deed and in truth love our neighbor as ourself? (Matt. 22:36-40).
Take the case – as alas, does happen from time to time – where some outstanding Christian leader has failed God. Are we at heart grieved about it? Or do we begin to malign him behind his back, and just make his real or supposed failures and faults a matter of idle, vain – even hateful gossip? God help us!
We should always remember that the devil shoots at shining marks. Therefore, we ought to pray especially for anyone who is being mightily used of God in any way. If one member of the Body of Christ suffers – all suffer (1 Cor. 12:12-27).
Do we not often mistreat other Christians, other children of God in a way that even sinners would not mistreat their own? Shame, oh, shame on us!
When a Christian fails God, drifts into sin – because often it is a "drifting" – the child of God had not intended to fail God perhaps, but he neglected prayer, he became censorious of others, he became puffed up by success – or, on the other hand, discouraged by seeming failure – and he just "slid" as it were into the pit that the devil had put in his way.
Do we have a sort of self-righteous feeling about the whole matter? Are we callous to the brother’s danger and his great need of our prayers? And furthermore, do we realize that if we had prayed for him as we should have prayed, he might never have fallen into sin? We ARE our brother’s keeper. We cannot possibly love our neighbor as ourself and not be deeply concerned about his spiritual state!
We Are Guilty!
Yes, we are guilty, many times, when a Christian whom we know, has failed God. Warning people in love with tears, is just as absolutely necessary as loving them (Acts 20:31).
"Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people…I am the Lord. Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart: thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbour, and not suffer sin upon him. Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the Lord" (Lev. 19:16-18).
Love Thy Neighbour As Thyself
Now if you had failed God, slipped into sin, would you not far rather that anyone who knew you should begin at once to pray very earnestly for you than that such a one should begin to gossip about your real or supposed failure? Then, let us do to others as we would that they should do to us! (Matt. 7:12).
When you hear that a brother or sister in the Lord has failed God along any line, take your share of the guilt for his or her failure.
If you had prayed as you should have prayed, if you had watched over his or her soul as you should have done, if in all honesty you had loved this neighbor as yourself – might you not have prevailed in prayer before such a one failed the Lord?
We are responsible to do all we can to help others by prayer, real travailing prayer, and by admonition, and by example, and by manifesting the love of God to others – both by our manner, our life before them – and by our words, speaking the truth in love (Eph. 4:15).
Exhort One Another Daily
This is just as much a command to the church of Christ today as is the command, "Thou shalt not kill" (Rom. 13:9).
Sometimes we are so weak spiritually ourselves that we do very little exhortation to anyone. Shame on us! Repent if you are guilty of this terrible sin, of neglecting to exhort your fellow Christians! What if some do not accept your warning? Some will. And also, some who at first resent your plain dealing will later repent and eventually thank you for your faithfulness.
Are you such a milk-and-water sort of a Christian that you shy off when people frown on you?
"He that rebuketh a man afterwards shall find more favour than he that flattereth with the tongue" (Prov. 28:23).
Oh, may the love of Christ constrain us to love the unlovely for His sake, to forbear one another in love, to remember that it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God! (Col. 3:13; Heb. 10:31).
May we remember that we do not have long to love people into the kingdom of God, we do not have long to manifest the dying love of Jesus to sinner and saint – to those around us who really need to see God’s love in manifestation in the outpoured lives and outpoured words and outpoured compassion of those who profess to be followers of the lowly Nazarene! (Isa. 43:12; Acts 1:8; 2 Cor. 3:2-3).