Now all of this really leads up to one great final point, and that is the need for love. We all need love. We need to love. And the reason is simply that when we are filled with love we will find ourselves uninterested in finding a speck in the eye of the other person.
In the first place, we need to be aware of God’s love and of the fact that we have been loved by Him. When did the Lord Jesus Christ love us? “Lord Jesus Christ, did You wait to love me until I had done something to make myself lovely? Did You wait until I loved You? Or did You wait until I had removed those great girders of sin that blinded my vision and distorted my spiritual understanding?” “Of course not!” Christ answers. “I loved you when you were still a sinner and unlovely by all divine standards.”
I hear the answer, and I turn to the fifth chapter of Romans and read, “For when we were without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:6-8). “Lord Jesus Christ, did You really love me like that? Did You die for me when I was yet a sinner?” “Yes, I did,” Jesus answers. Well then, I ask myself, “How can I be judgmental toward those whose sins, though small, are visible to me but for whom He also died?”
Dr. H. A. Ironside, who also knew these truths well, writes, “When our hearts are occupied with his wondrous love, we remember that he loved us when we were unlovely, and some of us are not very lovely now; we remember that he loved us when we were unlovable, and some of us are not very lovable yet. If he could do that when we were rebellious, and if that same love is now shed abroad in our hearts, we ought to be able to love those who are sinful and unkind and selfish.”1
Then, too, we do not only need to be aware of God’s love and of the fact that He loved us. We need this love in us. This means that we need the kind of close, personal fellowship with Him that will make it possible.
The apostle John was one who had learned a great deal about this love. Most of us tend to think of the apostle John as rather quiet and loving, perhaps even effeminate, as so many works of church art have pictured him. But this is a wrong idea. When he first met Christ in the company of his brother James, Jesus had said, “I am going to call the two of you by another name. You are going to be called Boanerges, the sons of thunder.” Certainly there is nothing effeminate about that.
Tomorrow we will see how they demonstrated their character as “sons of thunder,” but we will also see the change that took place as a result of having been with Jesus.
1H. A. Ironside, Addresses on the Epistles of John (New York: Loizeaux Brothers, n.d.), 179.