In many families we hear very little affection expressed. The members of the family seem cold and alienated, and regard all manner of expressions of affection as sentimental. There is no need of sentimentalism, but there is need of thoughtful courtesy one toward another, of chaste, ennobling, dignified manifestations of regard. Many who profess to love God seem to pride themselves on their hardness of heart. In language and action they reveal a character that is an offense to God. The tenderest affection should be cherished in the family circle. Especially between the husband and the wife should thoughtful love and refined courtesy ever be manifested. Brothers and sisters should never act as though they did not love one another; they should learn to restrain hasty words and manifestations of impatience. Every member of the family should manifest kindly affection one for another.
But perhaps while one member of the family gives his heart to God, others do not. They are still under the control of the Saviour's worst enemy, and they feel annoyed and angry that division has come into their household. He who has accepted Christ is no less dutiful than before; on the contrary, he is more kind, more faithful, more affectionate, because his nature is being purified, sanctified, and ennobled by the truth. But the Master of the Christian and the master of the unbeliever are in deadly conflict; and so the contest goes on in many homes. While the Christians are pleading earnestly with God that their relatives and friends may be drawn to Christ, while their hearts are breaking with longing that their loved ones may share His joy and peace, the hearts of the unbelieving are bound as with fetters to Satan's car, and they are asking, as did Pharaoh, "Who is the Lord, that I should obey His voice?" Again and again Jesus has knocked at the door of their hearts, and asked admission; but they have locked the door, and refused to receive Him. They cherish pride, envy, and hatred, and contention springs from these evil passions.
Whenever the mother can speak a word of commendation for the good conduct of her children, she should do so. She should encourage them by words of approval and looks of love. These will be as sunshine to the heart of a child and will lead to the cultivation of self-respect and pride of character. . . .
Remember, my dear brother and sister, that God is love and that by His grace you can succeed in making each other happy, as in your marriage pledge you promised to do. And in the strength of the Redeemer you can work with wisdom and power to help some crooked life to be straight in God. What is there that Christ cannot do? He is perfect in wisdom, in righteousness, in love. Do not shut yourselves up to yourselves, satisfied to pour out all your affection upon each other. Seize every opportunity to contribute to the happiness of those around you, sharing with them your affection. Words of kindness, looks of sympathy, expressions of appreciation, would to many a struggling, lonely one be as a cup of cold water to a thirsty soul. A word of cheer, an act of kindness, would go far to lighten the burdens that are resting heavily upon weary shoulders. It is in unselfish ministry that true happiness is found. And every word and deed of such service is recorded in the books of heaven as done for Christ. "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these My brethren," He declares, "ye have done it unto Me." Matthew 25:40.
Men and women are not fulfilling the design of God, when they simply express affection for their own family circle, for their rich relatives and friends, while they exclude those from their love whom they could comfort and bless by relieving their necessities. It is true that where large affection is manifested in the home circle, it not only brightens the home and brings cheerfulness and happiness to the entire family, but if love is unselfish, it will extend without the walls of the home. The manifestation of kindness, tenderness, Christian courtesy, is approved of God. The affection manifested in the home is a manifestation of Christ's love that flows through him from the heart of infinite love to bless the members of the family circle. It is love that will constitute the bliss of the heavenly family. Those who cultivate love in the homelife will form characters after Christ's likeness, and they will be constrained to exert a helpful influence beyond the family circle, in order that they may bless others by kind, thoughtful ministrations, by pleasant words, by Christlike sympathy, by acts of benevolence. They will be quick to discern those who have hungry hearts, and will make a feast for those who are needy and afflicted. Those who have heavenly discernment, who exercise tender regard for every member of the family, will, in doing their whole duty, fit themselves to do a work that will brighten other homes, and will teach others by precept and example what it is that will make home happy.
Through our relation of friendship and familiarity with human beings like ourselves, we may exert an uplifting influence. Those who are united in a common hope and faith in Christ Jesus can be a blessing to one another. Jesus says, "Love one another as I have loved you." Love is not simply an impulse, a transitory emotion, dependent upon circumstances; it is a living principle, a permanent power. The soul is fed by the streams of pure love that flow from the heart of Christ, as a well-spring that never fails. O, how is the heart quickened, how are its motives ennobled, its affections deepened, by this communion! Under the education and discipline of the Holy Spirit, the children of God love one another, truly, sincerely, unaffectedly,-- "without partiality, and without hypocrisy." And this because the heart is in love with Jesus. Our affection for one another springs from our common relation to God. We are one family, we love one another as he loved us. When compared with this true, sanctified, disciplined affection, the shallow courtesy of the world, the meaningless expressions of effusive friendship, are as chaff to the wheat.
In loving sympathy and confidence God's workers are to unite with one another. He who says or does anything that tends to separate the members of Christ's church is counterworking the Lord's purpose. Wrangling and dissension in the church, the encouragement of suspicion and unbelief, are dishonoring to Christ. God desires His servants to cultivate Christian affection for one another. True religion unites hearts not only with Christ, but with one another in a most tender union. When we know what it means to be thus united with Christ and with our brethren, a fragrant influence will attend our work wherever we go.
You need to cultivate love and affection for your parents and for your brothers and sisters. "Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honor preferring one another; not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality.". . .
Some of you seem to be earnestly struggling for forgiveness of sins, for freedom in God. Do you deserve the pardon that you are seeking? No, you do not; nevertheless, it is given you. And do you withhold from your brethren the forgiveness and affection of which you do not think them worthy? Would you have God deal thus with you? Deal with your brethren as you wish God to deal with you. If we expect our prayers for forgiveness to be heard, we must offer them in a forgiving spirit. We must forgive others in the same manner and to the same extent that we ourselves hope to be forgiven. The hard-heartedness that professed Christians manifest toward one another is not Christ-like, but savors of the Satanic. We must every one of us open our hearts wide to the love of Jesus, and encourage pity and affection for our brethren.
We should make it our daily care to cultivate sympathy and affection for one another. This is the fruit that grows on the Christian tree; it does not produce the briers and thorns of hatred and strife. The harsh, unsympathetic words we sometimes hear spoken, and the hardheartedness we see manifested, are wholly satanic, and this spirit must be supplanted by the spirit of Christ. Jesus bids us, "Love one another, as I have loved you. . . . By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another."[1 JOHN 13:34, 35.] He is our mighty Helper; and if he abides in our hearts, we shall manifest his spirit. We shall love one another; we cannot help it; for he is love.
. . . Writing by the Spirit, Paul says: "As we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another." "Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honor preferring one another; not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality. Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep." "Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good."
"The speaker's mind then turned to those blessed exhortations of the apostles in reference to the relation which the members of the body of Christ should sustain one to another, and their bearing, words, and actions toward one another. We were pointed to such passages as these: 'Be at peace among yourselves;' 'be kindly affectioned one to another;' 'be kind;' 'be courteous;' 'speak the same thing;' 'be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment;' 'speak not evil one of another;' 'live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you.'"
Peter exhorts his brethren: "Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble." The apostle Paul also exhorts his Philippian brethren to love and unity: "If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, fulfil ye my joy, that ye be like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through strife or vain-glory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others." Again he says, "Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honor preferring one another."
The young associating together might be a benefit instead of a curse. If they had God's glory in view when they meet, they would watch their opportunity to do good, to correct a selfish, vain, trifling spirit, exaltation and pride, and help one another. But there is but little of this faithfulness manifested among the young. Many join hands to take the affections from Jesus, and center them upon each other. They unite in trifling and foolish conversation. This affection cherished among them, is a curse. Let the affections first center in Christ, pass through the right channel, be purified by his Spirit, then they will lead to a yearning of soul for each other, not to bundle together to their hurt, but an earnest desire to have all share the gift of Jesus and his love.
Christianity is the revealing of the tenderest affection for one another. The Christian life is made up of Christian duties and Christian privileges. . . .
We are admonished by the apostle: "Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honor preferring one another." Paul would have us distinguish between the pure, unselfish love which is prompted by the spirit of Christ, and the unmeaning, deceitful pretense with which the world abounds. This base counterfeit has misled many souls. It would blot out the distinction between right and wrong, by agreeing with the transgressor instead of faithfully showing him his errors. Such a course never springs from real friendship. The spirit by which it is prompted dwells only in the carnal heart. While the Christian will be ever kind, compassionate, and forgiving, he can feel no harmony with sin. He will abhor evil and cling to that which is good, at the sacrifice of association or friendship with the ungodly. The spirit of Christ will lead us to hate sin, while we are willing to make any sacrifice to save the sinner.
Kindness and love and courtesy are the marks of the Christian. . . . In our association with each other let it be ever remembered that there are chapters in the experience of others that are sealed from mortal eyes; there are sad histories that are written in the books of heaven but are sacredly guarded from prying eyes. There stand registered long, hard battles with trying circumstances, arising in the very homes, that day by day sap the courage, the faith, the confidence, until the very manhood seems to fall to ruins. But Jesus knows it all, and He never forgets. To such, words of kindness and of affection are welcome as the smile of angels; a strong, helpful grasp of the hand of a true friend is worth more than gold and silver.
"The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness , temperance." When these fruits appear in the life, a telling influence will be exerted upon the world. The truly converted man will cease aspiring to be thought great. He will not seek for worldly honor, nor for luxury, ease, or wealth; neither will he be sensitive to reproach or neglect. "If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." Self is no longer the supreme object of love; family and friends are no longer the boundary. His heart is enlarged. Jesus has the first place in his affections; he loves Christians, because he sees in them the image of his Master, and all mankind with a love that prompts him to do them good. This is the fruit growing on the true Vine, more precious in the sight of God than all the wealth and learning of earth's great men.
True and abiding happiness can never be derived from any human being. We may have special, select friends that, all unperceived and unacknowledged by us, we place in the heart where God should be, and we can never perfect a round, full Christian experience until every earthly support is removed, and the soul centers its entire affections about God. "Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it: Except the Lord keep the city, the watchmen waketh but in vain."
Faith in a lie will not have a sanctifying influence upon the life or character. No Error is truth, or can be made truth by repetition, or by faith in it. Sincerity will never save a soul from the consequences of believing an error. Without sincerity there is no true religion, but sincerity in a false religion will never save a man. I May be perfectly sincere in following a wrong road, but that will not make it the right road, or bring me to the place I wish to reach. The Lord does not want us to have a blind credulity, and call that the faith that sanctifies. The Truth is the principle that sanctifies, and therefore it becomes us to know what is truth. We must compare spiritual things with spiritual. We must prove all things, but hold fast only that which is good, that which bears the divine credentials, which lays before us the true motives and principles which should prompt us to action. Selected Messages Bk2, pg. 56
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