the ship on dry land! Once there was water here, else ship would not
have been built. But the water has dried up. The ship may be a cozy
place in which to live, but as a vehicle for going places its value is
Something similar might be said about faith without love. The spirit of
Christ creates faith and love in the heart. Paul, in telling of the Lord
meeting him, said, "The grace of our Lord overwhelms with faith and
love in Christ Jesus". Christ would not give faith without also, at
the same time, giving love. And what love this is! It is a love that
causes us to have the correct attitude toward God and mankind.
But through selfishness, love sometimes dries up, to all appearances.
Since Paul says that the faith that is of value is the faith which
operates through love, we must conclude that when love has dried up,
faith may be used for a smug, complacent existence; but it can no more
operate, than the ship can float without water. The saint thus afflicted
may be very satisfied as to his own condition, but he will never
"go places," and cheer the hearts of others.
Faith is believing God. Who can define love? In the heart that has been
newly touched by the spirit of Christ, there is faith and love. But
faith can grow weak, and love can become dried up, so far as its
manifestation is concerned. Sometimes a saint will hold to a fossilized
brand of faith --- finding satisfaction because God favors him---but so
completely lose love, that he feels no interest in others. This is the
kind of saint who becomes so sectarian that he looks with suspicion on
all who do not fully agree with him. He will then begin, not merely to
not do anything FOR others, but to actually do things AGAINST them.
There is a brightness, or radiance, or loveliness, that is put into the
heart by the Lord our God, and unless it shines through to the surface,
so as to be manifested in our words, deeds and looks, love becomes dried
up, and faith becomes a fossil. The Psalmist prays that the brightness
of the Lord our God shall be on us. Psalm 90:17. Brightness in this
passage, is, of course, a figure of speech. When it is ON us, it is
because it was first put IN us. And, being on us, it can be seen and
recognized as loveliness of spirit, of countenance and of deeds.
I have in mind a lady who was a scrub woman. She made very little
pretense to being "religious," but she had a loveliness of
spirit that overshadowed the plainness of her features and the
shabbiness of her dress. She endeared herself to people in a remarkable
way, for she manifested, not in a "goody-goody" manner, but in
wholesome kindness, the spirit of the Christ. That she had faith, was
proven by her trustful spirit, and that she had plenty of love in which
it could operate, was to be seen in her everyday life. She has been dead
these many years, but her life and service is yet a fragrance, when the
influence of even preachers who lived in the community at the same time,
Not long ago I met a man whom I had never seen before, and his genial
smile and his manifest interest in others bespoke faith and love in the
heart. How refreshing was our conversation! Neither of us inquired as to
the religious affiliation of the other, for this is unimportant when the
loveliness of the Lord our God is so manifest. What cared we for
denominations? Of what importance was "profession?" The
loveliness of the Lord was there, and this is not always to be found
where one is interested in a sect.
Not only many who have joined something, but many who have NOT joined,
are secarian. They have a group, and this seems to be all that matters.
Sectarianism dries up love. It leaves the ship of faith stranded.
Selfishness is manifest in such people. Paul tried many ways to combat
sectarianism. In one of his pleas against it, he bids us to take into
account that which is true, grave, just, pure agreeable, renowned,
virtuous, or worthy of applause, and these are not confined to any one
group. In evaluating people we should look for these things. We have
faith, and if there is sufficient love to "float" it, we will
not be looking through a magnifying glass, to see how many faults we can
find but we will use the glass to see if there is, in the lives of those
with whom we come in touch, anything that can be commended. And we will
find some of these things!
I have said that faith is believing God. Believing Him, we trust Him.
The more we trust, the more we love Him. And this love cannot be for
Him, alone; we will love our fellows. And it will be a pleasure for us
to say things that show forth His glory and perfection, because words of
sincerity along this line will find lodgment in the hearts of others,
and bless them. Thus our faith is floating in love, and we are
"going places", instead of dwelling in a shell like a
For instance, I was made very happy a few days ago, when I said to a
neighbor, "It is a good day". He replied, "Yes, and there
is far more good than bad for us. God is looking after it". This
lifted me, and I went as if on wings, the rest of the day. Even now, my
memory can see his face as he spoke these simple words of praise to God.
He does not claim to be religious. He has never joined any church. But
he has faith---such faith, perhaps, as he would have to hide if he tried
to please a sect.
Moses, who wrote Psalm 90, knew something about the loveliness of the
Lord our God. His meekness was that loveliness. When he asked the Lord
to blot our his name from the book, if He would not pardon Israel, that
loveliness was taking the form of words. Paul, God's apostle to us, was
putting that loveliness into effect, when he was looking after the
saints as a father, and as a nurse, as he tells us in the Thessalonian
letter that he did.
It is a time of hatred around the earth. What an opportunity for saints
to translate into kind words, kind deeds and a kind attitude, the
loveliness that has been put into our hearts! How dare we take time to
bicker? How can we afford to take time out to hurt someone? Yea, how can
we afford to not use the precious moments to help and cheer those who so
much need us?
The Letter from which I quote below, show how saints are starving for
the kind deeds and words and looks that we are supposed to give them:
"I do so much wish you could come to see us between times, for life
is so short, and we get such a little bit of the better things of life,
that it keeps us downhearted". This is from one to whom I minister
in the evangel. How much more that saint needs, than I have been giving!
It seems incredible, but it is, nevertheless, true, that many saints
have so little confidence in each other, that they regard it as a sin to
love. Let such ones point out one lovely thing that has ever come, that
did not come out of love. On the other hand, let such a one tell of any
act of hatred that has been done with a design to bless. Love ---- love
deep enough for our faith to operate in is a blessing that cannot be
replaced by anything else.
Never, Oh God, let me be afraid to love,
(Since out of love comes every lovely thing);
To know the merciful, high hearted dreams
Born to all men to cleanse and make them whole;
To take the gifts of life with fearless hands,
And when I give, to give with all my soul,
It is most important that we evaluate ourselves. What we say in
"print", as well as in the "pulpit", and in private
conversation, is it really true that we say it in love? Do we REALLY
desire the welfare of the one of whom we are speaking or writing? No
unlovely remark can come out of a loving heart. No hurtful accusation
can be the outgrowth of love. We may feel secure in our
"connections", and not see the necessity of being careful to
have the correct attitude. But in so doing we are building a house that
will not stand the test of the dais of Christ. Is our faith operating
through love? Is the ship floating, or is it stranded?