So Christ urges us in the Gospels,
Matthew 22:37-39 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
Paul, carries this law to all the churches; Galatians 5:14 14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
James repeats it as a royal law: James 2:8 8 If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well.
But what does it mean? How do we do it? Here is Herman Witsius’s summary
For, he who loves God, cannot but love His image too, in which he clearly views express characters of the Deity, and not a small degree of the brightness of his glory. Again, whoever loves God, will, by virtue of that love, seriously wish, desire, study, and as much as in him lies, be careful, that his neighbour, as well as himself, be under God, in God, and for God, and all he has, be for his glory. Again, whoever loves God, will make it his business, that God may appear every way admirable and glorious; and as he appears such most eminently in the sanctification and happiness of men, 2 Thess. 1. 10. he will exert himself to the utmost, that his neighbour make advances to holiness and happiness. Finally, whoever sincerelv loves God, will never think he loves and glorifies him enough; such excellencies he discovers in him, sees his name illustrious, and so exalted above all praise, as to long, that all mankind, nay all creatures, should join him in loving and celebrating the infinite perfections of God. But this is the most faithful and pure love of our neighbour, to seek that God may be glorified in him, and he himself be for the glory of God. Hence it appears, that the love of our neighbour is inseparably connected with that of God, If therefore it flows from the nature of God, to enjoin us the love of himself, as was just proved; it must likewise flow from the nature of God to enjoin us the love of our neighbour.
Herman Witsius, The Enconomy of the Covenants (Grand Rapids, Reformation Hertage Books, 2010) Volume 1:1:3:66.
2 Corinthians 5:21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
He is made all our sin, as truly as He has none of His own; we are made all His righteousness, as truly as we have none of ours. For it is we, wholly and completely, that are His sin; He, wholly and completely, that is our righteousness. For us He is made sin; in Him we are made the righteousnes of God. If we are in Him, then all our sin; the sin of our life, and heart, and nature; our original sin and our actual sin; our sin that has been, is, and shall be; the sin that dwelleth in us; in short, the sin that we are; —this, Christ is made for us. All of us that is sin; all on which the sword of justice could smite and the sting of death fasten; we ourselves thus are made over to Him as His sin. And His righteousness;—the righteousness of His heart, and life, and nature; His original and actual righteousness; the entire lovely moral beauty of His person, His every righteous principle of thought, affection, will, desire and deed; the righteousness, in short, which He is;—this, we are made in Him. All of Him that is righteousness; all of Him on which the approbation, love, joy and delight of the Father can rest; He himself this is made of God unto us righteousness. For it is whole Christ that is “the end of the law for righteousness unto everyone that believeth.”
Hugh Martin, The Atonement (Edinburgh, Banner of Truth, 1976) 215-216.
Reading the Holy Bible and other good books, repetition, catechising, singing psalms, praying, praising, profitable discourse; these are the exercises which, if they meet with a heart piously and devoutly affected toward God, will furnish us with such a pleasing variety of good works, to fill up those hours of the Lord’s day which are not spent in public worship, or in works of necessity and mercy, and will turn so much to our advantage that we shall complain of nothing so much as the speedy returns of the Sabbath evening, and the shadows thereof.
The Sabbath day is a market day, a harvest day for the soul; it is an opportunity,—it is a time fitted for the doing of that which cannot be done at all, or not so well done, at another time: now, if this day be suffered to run waste, and other business minded than that which is the proper work of the day, our souls cannot but be miserably impoverished and neglected, and the vineyards we are made keepers of cannot but be like the field of the slothful, and the vineyard of the man void of understanding.
We have added the first 5 sermons from the current James series to the sermons page, more to follow.
In reading Jeremiah Burroughs this week (Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment) I have come across many insightful thoughts that are particularly important in our day, in our world. We have so much of this world’s goods and yet we always seem to be getting more, or at least, wanting more. Contentment it seems is a battle. Well Burroughs in the second chapter of this book would show us a fundamental problem we have in our thinking. The world around us, the advertisements, our western mindset, all agree in trying to convince us that to be content we need something more, something new, be someplace else, be with different and new people, and such like. Burroughs however says this is, absolutely, the wrong way to gain contentment. Contentment he says is not to be found by addition of new things, people, places or experiences, but subtracting off our longing for these things and being satisfied with what we have, who we have etc., by matching our desires with what we have now, not what we might have.
A Christian comes to contentment, not so much by way of addition, as by way of subtraction. That is his way of contentment, and it is a way the world has no skill in. I open it thus; not so much by adding more to his condition; but rather by subtracting from his desires, so as to make his desires and his circumstances even and equal. A carnal heart knows no way to be contented but this: I have such and such possessions, and if I had this added to them, and the other comfort added that I have not now, then I should be contented. Perhaps I have lost my possessions, if I could have given to me something to make up for my loss, then I should be a contented man. But contentment does not come in that way, it does not come, I say, by adding to what you want, but by subtracting from your desires.
1 Timothy 6:6-9 6 Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, 7 for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. 8 But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. 9 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.