In Chapter 10 "The Scriptures and Love" of Profiting from the Word, A.W. Pink states that "[n]o one can read the Scriptures with any measure of attention without discovering how much they have to say about love, and therefore it behooves each one of us prayerfully and carefully to ascertain whether or not his or her love be really a spiritual one, and whether it be in a healthy state and is being exercised aright." As part of my family devotional study of this book, I've decided to post my thoughts chapter by chapter and to include portions from the book that are helping me improve my daily Bible reading and study. You can read my notes from Chapter 1 here, Chapter 2 here, Chapter 3 here, Chapter 4 here, Chapter 5 here, Chapter 6 here, Chapter 7 here, Chapter 8 here, and Chapter 9 here.
A man profits from the Word of God when he:
- Perceives the importance of Christian love--"Said our Lord, 'By this shall all men know that ye are My disciples, if ye have love one to another' (John 13:35). By Christ’s making it the badge of Christian discipleship, we see again the great importance of love. It is an essential test of the genuineness of our profession: we cannot love Christ unless we love His brethren, for they are all bound up in the same 'bundle of life' with Him (1 Sam. 25:29). Love to those whom He has redeemed is a sure evidence of spiritual and supernatural love to the Lord Jesus Himself. Where the Holy Spirit has wrought a supernatural birth, He will draw forth that nature into exercise, He will produce in the hearts and lives and conduct of the saints supernatural graces, one of which is loving each other for Christ’s sake."
- Detects perversions of Christian love--"[W]e should not be surprised when unregenerate professors1 mistake human sentimentality and carnal pleasantries for spiritual love. But sad is it to see some of God’s own people living on so low a plane that they confuse human amiability and affability with the queen of the Christian graces. While it is true that spiritual love is characterized by meekness and gentleness, yet is it something very different from and vastly superior to the courtesies and kindnesses of the flesh. How many a doting father has withheld the rod from his children, under the mistaken notion that real affection for them and the chastising of them were incompatible! How many a foolish mother, who disdained all corporal punishment, has boasted that 'love' rules in her home!"
- Understands true Christian love--"Christian love is a spiritual grace abiding in the souls of the saints alongside faith and hope (1 Cor. 13:13). It is a holy disposition wrought in them when they are regenerated (1 John 5:1). It is nothing less than the love of God shed abroad in their hearts by the Holy Spirit (Rom. 5:5). It is a righteous principle which seeks the highest good of others...Spiritual love is a holy thing: it is faithful to God; it is uncompromising toward all that is evil."
- Discovers that Christian love is Divine communication--"To love Christ, and His and our brethren in Him, is congenial to that Divine nature He hath made us the partakers of by His Holy Spirit...It is the Holy Spirit within attracting and alluring me with Christ indwelling my brethren and sisters. Thus real Christian love is not only a Divine gift, but is altogether dependent upon God for its invigoration and exercise. We need to pray daily that the Holy Spirit will call forth into action and manifestation, toward both God and His people, that love which He has shed abroad in our hearts."
- Rightly exercises Christian love--"This is done not by seeking to please our brethren and ingratiate ourselves in their esteem but when we truly seek their highest good...Love is to be exercised in a Divine way, and never at the expense of failing to love God; in fact, it is only when God has His proper place in my heart that spiritual love can be exercised by me toward my brethren."
- Comprehends the manifestations of Christian love--"To love our brethren and manifest the same in all kinds of ways is our bounden duty...In no other way can the Christian more manifest his affectionate regard toward his fellow pilgrims than by using all his interests in the Lord Jesus in their behalf, entreating His mercies and favours unto them...The best way of overcoming a bitter spirit to a brother who has offended is to be much in prayer for him. "
- Grasps the proper cultivation of Christian love--"First, recognizing at the outset that just as there is much in you (in me) which will severely try the love of the brethren, so there will be not a little in them to test our love. “Forbearing one another in love” (Eph. 4:2) is a great admonition on this subject which each of us needs to lay to heart...Second, the best way to cultivate any virtue or grace is to exercise it. Talking and theorizing about it avails nothing unless it be carried into action. Suffer not the coldness and unkindness of others to dampen your love, but “overcome evil with good” (Rom. 12:21)...Third, above all see to it that your own heart basks in the light and warmth of God’s love. Like begets like. The more you are truly occupied with the unwearying, unfailing, unfathomable love of Christ to you, the more will your heart be drawn out in love to those who are His."
Mr. Pink ponders the previous 9 chapters and reiterates that:
"Many are deceived on this matter, mistaking an eagerness to acquire knowledge for a spiritual love of the Truth (2 Thess. 2:10), and assuming that addition to their store of learning is the same thing as growth in grace. A great deal depends upon the end or aim we have before us when turning to God’s Word. If it be simply to familiarize ourselves with its contents and become better versed in its details, it is likely that the garden of our souls will remain barren; but if with the prayerful desire to be rebuked and corrected by the Word, to be searched by the Spirit, to conform our hearts to its holy requirements, then we may expect a Divine blessing."
He goes on to encourage the reader to honestly measure himself by asking the following questions to see if his reading and searching of the Scriptures are really blessing his soul:
"Am I acquiring a greater hatred of sin, and a practical deliverance from its power and pollution? Am I obtaining a deeper acquaintance with God and His Christ? Is my prayer-life healthier? Are my good works more abundant? Is my obedience fuller and gladder? Am I more separated from the world in my affections and ways? Am I learning to make a right and profitable use of God’s promises, and so delighting myself in Him that His joy is my daily strength? Unless I can truthfully say that these are (in some measure) my experience, then it is greatly to be feared that my study of the Scriptures is profiting me little or nothing."
Under Mr. Pink's fifth point of rightly exercising Christian love, he points out what Christian love is not and gives biblical counsel on how to show love:
"Petting and pampering each other is not brotherly love; exhorting one another to press forward in the race that is set before us, and speaking words (enforced by example of our daily walk) which will encourage them to 'look off unto Jesus,' would be much more helpful (Heb. 12:1,2). Brotherly love is a holy thing, and not a fleshly sentiment or a loose indifference as to the path we are treading. God’s 'commandments' are expressions of His love, as well as of His authority, and to ignore them, even while seeking to be kindly affectioned one to another, is not 'love' at all. The exercise of love is to be in strict conformity to the revealed will of God. We are to love 'in the truth' (3 John 1)."
This concludes my book study on Pink's Profiting from the Word. May your Bible reading in 2016 be profitable.
"By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments," (1 John 5:2).