Tuesday, May 31, 2011

What Does it Mean to Love Christ?

Adapted from Holiness by J.C. Ryle.

The answer to this question is no different from what it means to love anyone. What does it mean to love your husband or wife, or to love a parent or a child, or to love a good friend? Love to Christ is not substantially different from love for any person.

If we love Christ, we like to think about Him. He is often present in our thoughts. It is that way between a true Christian and Christ. Eph 3:17 says that Christ “dwells in his heart.” True Christians think thoughts of Christ.

If we love Christ, we like to hear about Him. We find pleasure in listening to those who speak about Christ. True Christians most enjoy sermons that are full of Christ, and they enjoy the company of those who speak of Christ. “Did not our hearts burn within us, while He talked with us on the road, while He opened to us the Scriptures” (Lk 24:32)?

If we love Christ, we like to read about Him. The true Christian delights in the Scriptures because they speak of Christ. It is not wearisome to read a letter from a loved one. “You search the Scriptures . . . it is they that bear witness about Me” (Jn 5:39).

If we love Christ, we like to please Him. We are happy to find out what He likes and what He dislikes. We are willing to deny ourselves to please Him. To someone who loves Christ, the Ten Commandments are not burdensome, if they are what pleases Him. “If you love Me you will keep My commandments” (Jn 14:15); “And His commandments are not burdensome” (1 Jn 5:3).

If we love Christ, we like His friends. Even before we meet a friend of a friend, we are inclined to like him. True Christians regard all other Christians as friends because they are friends of the Lord Jesus Christ. “I have called you friends” (Jn 15:15).

If we love Christ, we are jealous about His name and honor. We do not like to hear anyone speak against Him. We feel jealous to maintain His interests and reputation. “Contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3).

If we love Christ, we talk to Him. The true Christian has no difficulty in speaking to his Savior. We tell Him all our thoughts. We have no hesitation about telling Him anything that is on our mind. We are not happy until we have spoken our minds and hearts to our friend. We ask for comfort in difficulty. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil 4:6-7).

Finally, if we love Christ, we like to be with Him. Thinking, hearing, and talking are all important, but if we really love a person, we want to be near him. The true Christian wants to hold communion with Christ without interruption. The true Christian longs for that day when he will see Christ face to face. “Surely I am coming soon. Amen! Come Lord Jesus” (Rev 22:20)!

These are the marks of true love. It is no hidden or secret thing that is hard to understand.

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