DECEMBER 31

Love Incorruptible

Bible Reading: Ephesians 6

Ephesians 6:24, “Grace be with all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with love incorruptible.”

Paul begins and ends his epistle with a “grace to you” theme (Ephesians 1:2).  But in the end, the appeal is limited to a select group—those who love Jesus with an undying love. 

To love Jesus is the most noble and enduring privilege that has been given to men.  There is no love as precious or necessary as is love for the Lord Jesus Christ.  He is the one object in all of creation—in both His person and work—that is most worthy and deserving of our affection.  It is as Charles Spurgeon has said, “Jesus is to believers the one pearl of great price, for whom we are willing to part with all that we have.  He has so completely won our love, that it beats for Him alone; to His glory we would live, and in defense of His gospel we would die.”

This kind of incorruptible love is sourced ultimately in God, who loves with an “everlasting love” (Jeremiah 31:3).  He who demonstrated such love by His “while we were still sinners” sacrifice (Romans 5:8), has bound us to Himself in an inseparable bond of love (Romans 8:35-39).  His is a love that “never ends” (1 Corinthians 13:8).

Our love for Christ is revealed in our glad-hearted obedience to Him, as He said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15).  And so, in this epistle, as the Apostle Paul commends to us the grace, peace, and love that is ours in Christ, he also exhorts us to respond with a love incorruptible.  The first three chapters of the epistle focus on the love of Christ for us.  The final three speak to our “love for Christ” response whereby we endeavor by grace to “walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which we have been called” (Ephesians 4:1; 1 John 4:19).

We are to keep on loving, keep on obeying, and keep on serving Jesus—that is the nature of this incorruptible love.  H. W. Beecher puts it this way: “Grace be upon all theologians that tend to promote love; upon all services that tend to inspire love; upon all organizations that tend to promote love.  No grace upon anything else.  That which does not touch love does not touch anything religious which is worth our consideration–certainly not worth our suffering for.”

Given what we know about the future of the church in Ephesus, it is noteworthy that Paul closed his epistle with this particular benediction.  This church was ministered to by Paul, Timothy, and by the Apostle John.  The Apostle John referred to this very same church some years later in the book of Revelation.  Christ Himself spoke to the church and commended it for its “works…toil…and patient endurance” (Revelation 2:1-3).  But then He chastised them for they had “abandoned the love (they) had at first” (Revelation 2:4).  They had started out well, motivated by love for Christ, but their fervent devotion had morphed into a loveless, “going through the motions,” kind of unacceptable religiosity.   Jesus rebuked them and called them to repentance.

Jesus exhorted them to “remember, repent, and re-do” (Revelation 2:5).  They were to remember from where they had fallen.  There had once been vitality.  Christ had reigned supreme in their hearts.  They were to remember that time.  To call to mind the excitement, the fulfillment, the sense of purpose and the peace they had possessed.  They were to long for renewal and revival.  They were to repent.  To repent is to experience a change of direction.  They were to change their thinking about the importance of Jesus Christ to them.  They had allowed other priorities to come into their lives and crowd Him out.  They were to re-do (i.e., “do the works you did at first” (Revelation 2:5).  It was not so much that the Church was doing nothing—they were praised in verse 2 for their deeds.  The problem was inadequate, misguided motivation. 

Christ also gave to the church a warning—they were to repent, or he would remove their lampstand.  In other words, they would lose their witness.  We know from history that Ephesus and the church in Ephesus did indeed cease to exist.  Paul’s benediction prophetically spoke to the church’s greatest need and cause of its eventual demise.

The hymn, “My Jesus, I Love Thee,” was written by William Ralph Featherston soon after his conversion to Christ as a 16-year-old teenager.  The last two verses of the hymn speak to our theme: “I’ll love Thee in life, I will love Thee in death, and praise Thee as long as Thou lendest me breath; and say when the death-dew lies cold on my brow, ‘If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus ‘tis now.’  In mansions of glory and endless delight, I’ll ever adore Thee in heaven so bright; I’ll sing with the glittering crown on my brow, ‘If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus ‘tis now.’

MY JESUS, I LOVE THEE

My Jesus, I love thee, I know thou art mine;
for thee all the follies of sin I resign;
my gracious Redeemer, my Savior art thou;
if ever I loved thee, my Jesus, ‘tis now.

I love thee because thou hast first loved me
and purchased my pardon on Calvary’s tree;
I love thee for wearing the thorns on thy brow;
if ever I loved thee, my Jesus, ‘tis now.

I’ll love thee in life, I will love thee in death,
and praise thee as long as thou lendest me breath,
and say when the deathdew lies cold on my brow:
If ever I loved thee, my Jesus, ‘tis now.

In mansions of glory and endless delight,
I’ll ever adore thee in heaven so bright;
I’ll sing with the glittering crown on my brow:
If ever I loved thee, my Jesus, ‘tis now.

Author: looking2jesus13

Having served as pastor at Lewis and Clark Bible Church, in Astoria, Oregon, for almost three decades, my wife’s cancer diagnosis led to my retirement and subsequent move to Heppner to be near our two grandchildren. I divide my time between caring for Laura and working as a part time hospice chaplain and spending time with family and spoiling my chocolate lab.

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