Holiness: A Love Service
‘I wish I knew the secret of Paul’s piety,’ said that good man, Asa Mahan, to Mr. Finney one day. ‘Paul said, “The love of Christ constraineth us.” ‘ Just then the glorious truth burst upon his mind that we are sanctified not by works, but by faith which works by love, and that the religion of Jesus is not one of vows and resolutions, and terrible struggle and effort, but of life and power and joyous love, and he went out of Finney’s room, saying, ‘I see it, I see it!’ and from that hour his life was one of triumphant holiness.
Oh, that all men would see this, — that the way of holiness is a ‘new and living way,’ not an old, dead, tiresome, heart-aching heartbreaking way of forms and ceremonies, that leaves the soul still baffled and unsatisfied, and with a sense of failure and defeat! It is a way of victory and joy.
The simple secret of this ‘new and living way’ is the constraining love of Christ. When we realize that He loves us and died for us, and that He wants a service of love, and then give ourselves up heartily, in faith, to such a love service, the secret becomes ours.
‘Shall I have to go and tell mother and my brothers and the Corps how inconsistent I have been?’ asked a lassie with whom I was talking about the blessing. ‘I don’t feel that I can ever do that.’ She had been defeated again and again by fits of temper, and I felt that she ought to confess to those whom she had probably hindered by her inconsistency. But I saw that she would not get the blessing by doing it because she must, but because she wanted to, out of very love for Jesus, her mother and brothers, and the Corps. So I quietly replied that the Lord did not want a slavish service from her, but a love service; and that if she felt it would really do any good to make such a confession, and loved Jesus enough to do it to please Him, and to help those whom she had wronged by an inconsistent life, God would be pleased with it, but otherwise not. I assured her that if she did it in that spirit, she would find it a joy.
After some further conversation we knelt to pray. She told the Lord all about herself, asked Him to cleanse her heart and fill it with His Spirit and love, and then she claimed the blessing. Here is a note I received from her several weeks later:
‘I am very happy in the possession of a clean heart. Through God I have been able to gain victories that before I thought were absolutely impossible. The confessions that I told you I could not make, I only waited until the next day to make, and for the very love of it too, as you said I would. It has not been easy — anything but that; but such a burden has gone from my heart. that I am happy even in the hardness. I fell one night through my old temper, and felt as though my heart would break; but God forgave me, and showed me through that how weak I was; for I had almost thought that we could not fall after receiving the blessing. I suppose God took that way to show me that unless I trusted in Him I should fall. However, at the present time there is nothing between the Lord and me, and I am happy.’
Have you, my dear Comrade, been serving the Lord blindly and slavishly, simply because it is your duty, and yet with a constant feeling of unrest and unfitness? Oh, how He loves you, and wants to catch your ear, and win your heart, and draw you into a glad love service!
‘But I am so weak and faulty, I have failed so often. Surely, the Lord must be discouraged with me,’ you say. No, no, not if you are in earnest, any more than your mother was discouraged with you when as a little toddler just learning to walk, you fell again and again. She did not cast you off, but picked you up, and kissed the knees and nose that were bumped, and loved you more than you dreamed. And in all your other failures she still bore with you and hoped for you. So it is with Jesus. Let this love constrain you. ‘We love Him because He first loved us.’ Trust Him. Give yourself wholly and heartily to Him, and be sure you serve Him for love, and you will have learned the secret of a holy, happy life.
Oh, let Thy love my heart constrain, Thy love for every sinner free: That every fallen soul of man May taste the grace that found out me; That all mankind with me may prove Thy sovereign, everlasting love.