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Fear, Hope, Love These Three.

by E. L. Jorgenson

(From The Christian Word & Work Jan. 1913)

There are three motives to Christian service: Fear, Hope, and Love; but the greatest of these is love. Whether service be impelled by fear, inspired by hope, or constrained by love, it is acceptable to God. But this is not saying there is not a vast difference in the quality of service these motives respectfully render. It is sad to think of the many brethren confessing, communing, giving, praying, serving because and merely because, they are afraid not to. Of course, it is only a half-hearted, cold, perfunctory service and worship they can offer. Not that this service is unacceptable. God’s dealings with many a man have begun at this point; but it is his will and desire to lead us triumphantly out of fear into love, for perfect love casts out fear.

Hope, the second motive mentioned looks up, while fear looks down. Hope reaches after heaven; fear runs away from hell. Heaven is like the attractive pole of a galvanic battery, while hell is like the repellent pole. Hope is the answer to heaven’s attraction, and in its various phases, is one of the strongest springs of the Christian life.

While these three motives overlap, and cannot be fully separated (they need not be, for Christian experience, through God does not depend upon subtle analyses, or shrewd philosophical deductions), yet, in normal growth love should eventually lift one out of the realm of fear. ‘Naturally, as the life becomes more and more conformed unto that of Christ; as assurance of eternal salvation grows strong, there is less to fear, for it is only to those who are disobedient that our God is a consuming fire. Fear then gives place to an intense love for God as we know Him in Christ Jesus. It is disobedience to law that causes fear and love lifts men out of law. It is the fulfilment of the law (Rom. 13: 10) because it is the short-cut to the observance of the law. Love does not kill, commit adultery, steal, or bear false witness; therefore, love is the. fulfillment of the commandments prohibiting these. Paul does not, and could not, say, ‘‘Fulfillment of the law, therefore, is love;” but he says, “Love therefore, is the fulfillment of the law.” For love is not something you do, but something that makes you do. whether it be regarded as a sentiment as in human affections, or as a principle, as in Divine relationship, it is a motive, not a result; a cause, not an effect.

How love sets men free from law may be illustrated as follows: there is a law on our statute books that mothers must care for their children. Serious neglect is punishable. Yet what mother, worthy of that name made sacred; since Jesus was born of Mary, cares for her child because of that statute? Many model mothers may learn for the first time of its existence from these lines. But to learn of it will not make them fearful for they are free from that law. Not because they have broken away from it, but because love has lifted them above it. It is possible for them to fall to the plane upon which it operates, but it is unlikely they will. The point in the illustration needs no lengthy elucidation. It is clear, Love for God can set God’s children free from law and fear. Love can make God’s commands but the directions of a kind wise Father who knows what is best for His beloved. But this liberating love does not come at the point of a pistol, or the thrust of a sword. It cannot be coerced. It comes through acquaintance with the God who is not only loving, but lovable. “We love because He first loved us” I. John 4: 19). It comes as response when we hear the story of how He first loved us.

 

E. L. Jorgenson, The Christian Word and Work, Jan. 14, 1913

 




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That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

2 Corinthians 12:10