path of love is the path suited to transcendence, I Cor. 12:14---13:13. This
is the very highest excellence. "Love is patient, is kind", I Cor.
13:4 This is not to be wondered at, for God is love, and the spirit of love
and kindness is put into our hearts when we are called. This is the first
effect of the calling of Saul of Tarsus. "The grace of our Lord
overwhelms with faith and love in Christ Jesus", says Paul in telling of
the call, I Tim. 1:14. God loves the foremost among sinners, and the
manifestation of this love begets love in the heart so that Paul spent the
rest of his life, exercised by love to a great extent. Indeed, his love
increased as he went along.
Having lately been under the rigid law of Moses, Paul thought, at first, that
his practice, ought to be more or less in keeping with the inelastic demands
of law. But as he grew more and more into the knowledge of the graciousness of
God to him, he became more gracious toward others. There is evidence that he
did not write an entire epistle at one sitting. For instance, in I Cor. 13 he
is more concerned with love than he seemed to be earlier in the epistle.
Perhaps some days or weeks elapsed between the beginning and the close of the
epistle. A year later he was far more exercised by love, for in II Cor. he
mentions a man who had been mentioned adversely in I Cor. 5, and said,
"Enough to such is this rebuke, which is by the majority. So that, on the
contrary, you are rather to deal graciously and console, lest somehow such may
be swallowed up by the more excessive sorrow. Wherefore I am entreating you to
ratify your love to him . . . . . Now with whom you are dealing graciously in
anything, I also. For in what I also have dealt graciously, (if I have dealt
graciously in anything), it is because of you in the face of Christ, lest we
should be overreached by Satan, for we are not ignorant of the things that he
apprehends", II Cor. 2:7, 8, 10, 11.
In the early part of I Cor. he was afraid that a lack of severity would be
Satan's weapon against them. But now he finds that the most potent weapon that
the Adversary can lay hold of and use against the saints is a lack of love and
graciousness. And that is the truth. I now of nothing else that can so
effectually be used to destroy the usefulness of saints, as a lack of love,
kindness and graciousness.
Since no one is made the boss of another, unkindness and severity can NEVER do
a saint any good. Since we can never DRIVE, but must always DRAW, then we
ought to have learned long ago, that love is our very best equipment for
benefitting our fellow-saints. The magnetism of LOVE is the most powerful
force in the universe.
How did the Christ manifest Himself to the foremost among sinners--Saul of
Tarsus? He spoke not one word of harshness. He merely said, in a gentle,
plaintive voice, "Saul, Saul! Why are you persecuting Me?" This
changed the disposition of that old sinner, and he immediately cried,
"Lord, what will YOU have me to do?" Christ did not get behind him
and force him to become a saint. No force was used, except the compelling
power of love. True, he fell to the ground, but this was due to the bright
light that shone in his afflicted eyes. Christ did not knock him down, as some
have said. He did for Saul, what He will eventually do for all, for He had
said that if he should be exalted out of the earth, he would be drawing all to
Himself, John 12:32. The next verse says that he had reference to the manner
of death he was to die when he spoke of being exalted. He was speaking of the
"Love is patient, is kind". The teacher is told by Paul, late in his
ministry, (II Tim. 4:2), "Herald the word. Stand by it, opportunely,
inopportunely, expose, rebuke, entreat, WITH ALL PATIENCE and teaching".
There is need for exposure and rebuke. But as this is to be done in patience,
is necessarily follows that it is to be done in love, for love and patience
are connected. The exposure and the rebuke must not be administered by us in a
spirit of superiority. And they must not be given in a manner that will hold
the saint up to public scorn. Merely TEACH; for we are to expose and rebuke
with teaching. Whenever we teach the word by heralding it, those who hear are
rebuked and exposed, if they are in rebellion against the word of God. Since
we have no authority over them, why should we go on and call their names, and
thus make them our enemies without doing them any good?
We ought to take notice of the growth of graciousness as manifested in the
later epistles, as compared with that in the earlier ones. While the church
was an organization, there was the power of exclusion. Paul called the saints
out of the organization in II Cor. 6. This destroyed the power of exclusion,
and also made it unnecessary; for when people are worshiping together, without
any organization, no one is thought of as being responsible for the conduct of
another, except that, of course, we should seek to influence all saints by
heralding the word, which exposes and rebukes. We are to do it in kindness.
I wonder if the reader has ever thought of the impossibility of carrying into
effect, now, I Cor. 5. That was in the days when miracles were yet present.
They could give up one to Satan. Would you know how to do it? Satan would, in
some way, exterminate the flesh. Have you ever seen this done? That passage
has been an excuse for mortifying many a saint, and holding him up to public
The DOCTRINE of the grace of God is present in all Paul's epistles. The
ADMINISTRATION of the grace of God is fully developed in the epistles
that are written for Paul's second administration. These are Ephesians,
Colossians, Philippians, II Timothy and Philemon. Administration means
MANAGEMENT. I Cor. 5 is replaced by II Tim. 3, where, instead of giving one up
to Satan for the extermination of the flesh, we merely AVOID the disorderly
ones. Having no authority over them, avoiding them is the only way we can show
our disapproval of their conduct. Whatever we find in earlier writings that
seem to contradict this, must be modified to correspond with the
administration in which all is to be done in grace. Avoiding one is not
ungracious, if he really is disorderly, for we are inflicting no hurt on him,
nor are we holding him up to public scorn.
Administration in Eph, 4 calls for bearing with one another in love, while
walking, ourselves, worthily of our calling, with humility, meakness and
patience. If all saints were without fault, we would be deprived of the
blessed opportunity of bearing with them in love.
Administration in Colossians 4 means that we are to put on, as God's chosen
one, holy and beloved, pitiful compassions, kindness, humility, meakness,
patience, bearing with one another and dealing graciously among ourselves, if
anyone be having a complaint against any. According as the Lord deals
graciously with us, thus also, are we to deal graciously.
Children who have been born within the last few years have known no world
except one filled with hatred. What an opportunity for saints to show them
that there is something besides hatred! If we don't manifest love, who is
going to do so? When they read our literature let them find not one word of
impatience, hatred, unkindness or ungraciousness. Let them find a spirit of
love, and a tendency to seek every point which we can approve in the attitude,
belief, conduct, and service of saints. Let us make our publications mediums
of good will, and our meetings the means of building up the saints in truth,
without one word of bickering and impatience.
Why should we let others out do us in point of courtesy and welcome extended
to those who attend our meetings? Whether or not we like it, there are those
who will take our congregation away from us, unless we go as far as they, in
welcoming, personally, all those who attend. I do not hold myself up as an
example, but I do as I have here suggested. I shake hands with, and personally
welcome, everyone who comes into my meetings.