The danger has always been that we see the characteristics of salvation more as qualifications for salvation. That we view facets of the gift as requirements we need to fulfill in order to realize the gift. That what was intended to be a new way actually becomes a new law. That what was meant to bring freedom to live for God instead enslaves us as we try to perform for God. Case in point from my reading this morning? Love incorruptible.
Grace be with all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with love incorruptible.
(Ephesians 4:24 ESV)
At first glance, it’s kind of easy to see how this might be read as a prayer for a certain type of Christian? To think that the Father’s continuing grace is for those who are able to love His Son with continuing love?
If so, then I better figure out how to sustain an incorruptible love for Jesus. Talk about pressure. Talk about a high standard of performance. Talk about a formula for failure.
But what if Paul’s not talking quid pro quo here? What if he’s not inferring that as long as we keep loving Jesus with a love incorruptible then we’ll know God’s blessing with grace inexhaustible? What if, instead, within the nature of the believer–the new, born again, regenerated nature–there is the ability to love God’s Son with an enduring love? And that the grace that saved the believer, enabling Him to love with love incorruptible, is the grace that will sustain the believer, and the grace that will ever be poured out upon the believer?
Love incorruptible is permanent love. Love that lasts through perpetuity. An immortal love. To be sure, it might flicker at times. It might grow low at times. Perhaps be clouded when it becomes entrapped by sin, or entangled with the affairs of this world, at times. But the believer’s love for the Lord Jesus Christ is never extinguished. Because it isn’t our love to begin with . . . it’s part of the gift.
We love because He first loved us.
(1John 4:19 ESV)
We have the capacity to love Christ with love incorruptible, because He has loved us with love unfathomable. A love that, no matter how long we seek to plumb its “breadth and length and height and depth,” it will always be “the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge.” And yet, always the love that we have been “rooted and grounded” in. (Eph. 3:17-19).
Far from reading Paul’s closing words to the Ephesians and thinking that I need to step it up and make sure I’m loving the Savior with a love incorruptible, these closing words should be an overwhelming flood of truth that evokes my feeble attempts at worship. That with all that is mine in Christ, there is also love incorruptible.
I can praise God this morning that I will continue to love Him because He will continue to love me first. That I will know what it is to sincerely love Him because He has undertaken the sanctifying work of forming within me the love of Christ as He determines to conform me to the image of Christ (Rom. 8:29). That I will love Him in perpetuity because of the work He has committed to permanently, a work He will bring to completion at the day of Jesus Christ (Php. 1:6).
Love incorruptible. Not a qualification for salvation. But a characteristic of new life in Christ.
By His grace. For His glory.