Our verse does not tell us to keep God loving us. Nothing can ever change or alter the glorious fact that He loves us. He tells us that “I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn thee.” “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” Nor does our text verse tell us that we are to love God, though certainly “we love Him, because He first loved us.” But, our verse says, we are to “keep [ourselves] in the love of God.” We are to keep ourselves in the spiritual condition that permits God’s love to work in our lives and enables us to enjoy that love. Our Lord said, “He that hath My commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth Me: and he that loveth Me shall be loved of My Father, and I will love him, and will manifest Myself to him. … If a man love Me, he will keep My words: and My Father will love him, and We will come unto him, and make Our abode with him.” So we are called to “come out from among them, and be ye separate … and I … will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be My sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” Then “keep yourselves in the love of God,” remembering that His “love is strong as death.”
Do stay in the place of blessing; Do keep yourself in God’s love; Your life will be filled with goodness, Sent down from the Father above.
Perhaps no statement of Scripture gives a clearer summary of how the believer may live a victorious and joyful Christian life, than that found in the words, “Looking unto Jesus.” The words carry the thought of looking away from all else and centering our attention and affection on Him, as He is seated “at the right hand of the throne of God.” We are to look away from ourselves, both our failures and successes; we are to look away from men, however godly they may be, and look only to Him. “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.” Just as He tells us to “look unto Me, and be ye saved,” so as saved ones we are to be constantly “looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith,” and “consider Him … lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.” For “the Lord is the portion of mine inheritance and of my cup: Thou maintainest my lot. … I have set the Lord always before me: because He is at my right hand, I shall not be moved,” always remembering that “He faileth not.”
I look away from my heart so fickle, And away from men whose lives do fail; I look to my Savior seated in glory, Who beareth my name within the veil.
We live in momentous days, “the last days,” when, as Scripture predicts, “perilous times shall come,” days when we see “men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth.” Therefore, “because the days are evil” and because “evil men and seducers … wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived,” we who know the Lord are to be “redeeming the time,” that is, “buying up the opportunities.” Day by day, God gives us such opportunities and tells us that “as we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.” There are times of which it may be said that “ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity.” But how much more often is it true that we let opportunities slip away, without redeeming them. God in grace may give other opportunities, but the lost ones can never be recovered. May we be diligent to be “always in remembrance of these things,” that we may “know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary,” and “to warn the wicked from his way,” “to walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time.” “Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.”
A word of warning, a word of cheer, As we walk life’s pathway each day, A word from the Word, with God’s own power, That will encourage and show the way.
We live in an age of hurry and rush. Even among Christians, we measure one’s spirituality by his so-called productivity. We so easily forget that when we stand before the Lord, the primary issue will not be the amount of our works, but “every man’s work shall be made manifest … and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.” Quality comes before quantity. We need to remember that Christian service is not an endurance contest and that the Lord “knoweth our frame; He remembereth that we are dust.” To be sure, the Lord does not want His redeemed ones to be slothful, for “he also that is slothful in his work is brother to him that is a great waster,” but neither does He want us to be continually weary. “To whom He said, This is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing.” “Thus saith the Lord God … In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength.” May He not have to say to us, as He did to Israel, “Ye would not.”
It is not by our might or power That our work for the Lord is tried, But by the Spirit’s own working, Who has come to us to abide.
Many of us have had times of regret over words hastily spoken: judgmental words, reproachful words, untrue words, boastful words, but all words which can never be recalled, regardless of how much harm they do. Perhaps we did not mean them to be hurtful, but we were “hasty in [our] words,” for the moment forgetting that “the heart of the righteous studieth to answer: but the mouth of the wicked poureth out evil things.” How well it is for us to be “swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath,” for “in the multitude of words there wanteth not sin: but he that refraineth his lips is wise.” It may seem smart and advantageous to want to have a word on every subject, but “he that hath knowledge spareth his words: and a man of understanding is of an excellent spirit.” How very needful that “I … take heed to my ways, that I sin not with my tongue.” Hasty words come from a hasty spirit, and “he that is hasty of spirit exalteth folly.” So, “set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips,” and “let the words of my mouth … be acceptable in Thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer.”
Words spoken in anger, spoken in haste, Words that we can never recall, Words that cause sorrow, cause pain and cause grief, But words that hurt us most of all.
Our greatest spiritual victories do not always come by our being delivered from trials and adverse circumstances. Paul has been speaking of “tribulation … distress … persecution … famine … nakedness … peril [and] sword,” and he says that “in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us.” Many times the Lord manifests His grace to us in and during a time of trouble, before He delivers us from it. His promise is that “he shall call upon Me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honor him.” It is gloriously true that “the righteous cry, and the Lord heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles,” and that though “many are the afflictions of the righteous … the Lord delivereth him out of them all,” yet we can also say to Him that “Thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress,” and “I called upon the Lord in distress: the Lord answered me, and set me in a large place.” Many times we have to say with the psalmist, “Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept Thy word.”
“I will deliver thee,” He does declare, This word so blessed He has spoken, But He giveth grace in the trial itself And stays near to the heart that is broken.
Strange to say and sad to say, we who know the Lord are many times guilty of fearing “the reproach of men,” as if such reproach was of eternal consequence. We forget that “the fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the Lord shall be safe.” Suppose that we are reproached of men because of our trust in the Lord, or suppose that we are reviled because we “walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind,” is it not better to have the Lord’s approval than to have the approval of men? “It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man,” even the best of men. “Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils: for wherein is he to be accounted of?” “The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me,” and “Thou shalt hide them in the secret of Thy presence from the pride of man: Thou shalt keep them secretly in a pavilion from the strife of tongues.” “My help cometh from the Lord.”
Kept from man’s anger, kept from his hate, Kept by God’s power and grace, We look above to Jesus our Lord, With no need to fear man’s face.
Many different kinds of testing and trials come to the Christian. It may be misunderstanding or ridicule or scorn; it may be sickness, poverty or peril. But God in grace permits these things and tempers them. And He sends them only “if need be.” “Though He cause grief, yet will He have compassion according to the multitude of His mercies. For He doth not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men.” He seeks to help us, not to hurt us. “No chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless, afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.” Thus God desires “that no man should be moved by these afflictions: for yourselves know that we are appointed thereunto.” Moreover, “our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.” And in every trial, He says to us that “My grace is sufficient for thee.”
To him who would honor and please the Lord, Afflictions and testings shall surely come, But He weighs the load before He gives it; His grace abundant ever leads toward home.
There is much loose thinking on the part of Christians, not always evil thoughts, but also thoughts that are vain and useless. Thus God calls upon His redeemed children to “gird up the loins of your mind,” “casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” Outward life is the result of our inward thinking, and our heavenly Father desires that we “be not conformed to this world: but be … transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God.” It is true of all of us that “as he thinketh in his heart, so is he.” It is not humanly possible to control our thought life; it must be by God’s grace and power. The psalmist knew the secret when he said, “I hate vain thoughts: but Thy law do I love.” It is as we fill our hearts and minds with God’s Word and walk in obedience to it that we can “gird up the loins of your mind” and “set your affection on things above.”
Thoughts of righteousness, thoughts of peace, Thoughts that glorify our Lord, Thoughts taken captive by His grace, Thoughts that are molded by God’s Word.
What untold solace and encouragement it brings to our hearts to know that “the Lord knoweth.” Whatever trials may beset us, however grieved our hearts may be, however much we are misunderstood by friends or foes, though we “are in heaviness through manifold temptations,” still “the Lord knoweth,” for “all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of Him with whom we have to do,” even Him who “calleth His own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. And when He putteth forth His own sheep, He goeth before them.” And He says to His own, “Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art Mine. When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.” Let us follow the example of David, who “encouraged himself in the Lord his God,” for “He knoweth the way that I take: when He hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.”
The floods overflow, and the trials overwhelm, And the heart is as heavy as stone, But His Word comes to us, “Be of good cheer,” For He will never leave us alone.