2 Corinthians 8:16-24
But thanks be to God, which put the same earnest care into the heart of Titus for you.…
1. In every believer's heart there is —
(1) Love to God. He cannot else be a child of God.
(2) Love to Christ. How could he be a Christian otherwise? As a consequence of this.
(3) Love to the brotherhood.
2. Where there is true love in the heart it becomes a working principle. It is a vital principle, and out of its growth there comes fruit.
I. WHAT IS THE EXCELLENCE OF THIS LOVE THAT WE SHOULD BE SO ANXIOUS TO PROVE IT? It is —
1. Divine in its origin. We should never have loved if God had not first loved us. It is, therefore, a precious thing, and we ought to take heed that we assuredly possess it, and so to live that others may be convinced that it rules our spirits.
2. Surpassing in its energy, for true love to God exceeds all other love. This affection, like Aaron's rod, must swallow up all others, and must therefore produce its own proof. If it were some minor passion we might not be so particular about it.
3. Vital in its necessity. If a man does not love God, Christ, and His people, then the life of God does not dwell in him. Hence the importance that the proofs of our love should be unmistakable.
4. Warranted by the facts of the case. Love to God — I will not spend a word in justifying it. Love to Christ — how can it be needful to commend it to you? "Love so amazing, so Divine," etc.
5. Eminent in its achievements. It makes Christians strong. Faith laughs at impossibilities, and cries, "It must be done"; but love performs the deed, for "faith worketh by love." What have not men done out of love to Christ?
II. WHAT IS THIS PROOF? As regards —
1. God and Christ. If you love Him you will keep His commandments, seek to honour Him, be anxious to extend His rule, long for communion with Him, grieve when you grieve Him, long to be like Him.
2. God's ministers. If they speak well of you, do not let them have cause to retract their holy boasting, and to say with tears, "I was deceived in these people." If any have brought you to Christ, be an honour to them and to the gospel that they preach.
3. God's people.
(1) Go and join them. Do as she did who said, "Whither thou goest, I will go;... thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God."(2) When you have joined the church, show a proof of your love by hearty fellowship.
(3) Unite with them in service.
4. The ungodly. Try to snatch the firebrands from the flame. If you can preach Christ. Speak of Him to your companions.
III. WHY IS THIS PROOF CALLED FOR?
1. True love always longs to prove itself. It does not need a command to do it. It is waiting for an opportunity. It is so with your domestic life. In a far higher degree, what a delight it is to a Christian to do something for Jesus!
2. That it may become a blessing to other people. It would be of no use for the Corinthians to sing a hymn about charity while the poor saints at Jerusalem had not a loaf to eat.
3. It is reasonable that you should do so. God did not love you and keep it to Himself; He gave His Son.
IV. WHO IT IS THAT CALLS FOR THIS PROOF OF OUR LOVE. I will leave out everybody else and say, it is your Lord, your own dying, living Saviour who says, "Show Me the proof of your love." I will tell you how He is saying it.
1. Affliction has come into your house. There is a dear one dead; and Jesus says, "Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou Me more than these dear ones? If so, thou wilt part with them and not complain."
2. Perhaps you have had a difference lately with one to whom you ought to be united in friendship. Now your Lord and Master says to you, "Show Me the proof of your love. Forgive him for My sake even to seventy times seven; and if you have wronged him confess the wrong, and humble yourself for My sake."
3. But possibly there are some here who have had in their minds the project of doing something unusual for Jesus, or the church, or the poor, or for missions to the heathen. Jesus says, "I have prospered you: when others have failed in business I have taken care of you. Show Me the proof of your love." Will you not hear His call?
(C. H. Spurgeon.).
Parallel VersesKJV: But thanks be to God, which put the same earnest care into the heart of Titus for you.