You profess holiness, but do you really enjoy perfect love? A profession of holiness without love is like a well without water, like a stove without fire, like a tree without fruit. It raises expectations only to disappoint them. You let down your bucket for water—it comes up empty. You go for warmth but find none. You shake the tree for fruit but gather nothing but leaves.
If your experience is a fruitless one, the fault is not in your circumstances but in your experience. You may be a pattern of plainness and non-conformity to the world—you may be uncompromising in your opposition to its fashions and pleasures—Zeno, the Stoic, was all this, and yet he was only a heathen, and not a Christian. But you cannot be filled with love to God and man without being a blessing to others. Toward those who are striving to do God’s will you will have no feeling of envy or jealousy. You will not try to cripple their influence by lowering them in the estimation of others. You will rejoice with them that do rejoice. If they build faster or better than you, if you have love, you will not stop work and go to persecuting them on that account. If they really cast out devils in the name of Jesus, you will not forbid them, though they follow not you.
“Love envieth not.”—I Cor. 13:4.
Towards those who are out of the way you will feel—not anger -but compassion. Suppose they do act wrong, what else could you expect? You will not hold them off, nor act distant, as though you feared they might pollute you. Jesus came to “seek and to save them that are lost.” If you have His love you will go after those who go astray. We ask you again, Have you perfect love? Read its characteristics in the thirteenth chapter of 1st Corinthians. Ask yourself the question, as you read them one by one, Is this true of my experience? Am I able to suffer long and be kind? Am I free from envy and vanity? Do I not think better of those who think well of me, than I do of others of equal worth? Does not my opinion of others depend very much on the degree of attention which they pay to me?
A want of usefulness is an unerring sign of a want of love. Admit the fact. Stop blaming others. Quit finding fault.
Some preachers when they see a weakness among their people, give strong doses when they ought to take one first themselves. Get a real—not affected—love for souls, then your plain dealing will draw them to you, instead of driving them away. Then you can, in meekness, instruct those who oppose themselves, and God may give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth.
Seek then, first of all, for a baptism of pure, perfect love upon your soul. Do not think you have it when the fruits are wanting. Own your need and then you will ask earnestly to have it supplied. God is ready to shed abroad His love in your heart by the Holy Ghost given unto you. For this, in the work of God, there can be no substitute. Increase of zeal may help somewhat—but nothing will fit you to live right and to do the good you may, but the fullness of the love of God. Do not, then, go another day without it. Is consecration needed to obtain it? Then make the consecration without delay. Keep back nothing. Let God have all. Present your body a living sacrifice. Let your talents, your time, your property, your all be at the disposal of Him to whom you belong.
Is confession called for? Have you manifested to others an unlovely disposition, contrary to the Spirit of Christ? The confession should be as broad as the offense. It may be in the family—it may be to those who look up to you, that you have exhibited your lack of the “love that beareth all things, that endureth all things,” but no matter; make the confession humbly, and plainly, and without any excuses, and see how God will melt your heart and fill you with His love. Be decided upon this point. Neglect what you may, do not put off seeking the fullness of the love of God. If you have ten talents it will enable you to use them to the glory of God;—if you have but one it will enable you to make the most of that, and secure to you your eternal reward when the work of life is done.