The Proof of Love
Peter answered, "Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love Thee." The Lord came back upon that declaration, imperfect as it was, for He Himself had used another word, the Lord came back and said, 'All right, prove it.' There was the challenge of love, and then the proof of love. "Feed My lambs." "Tend My sheep." And where is the emphasis in that? The emphasis is upon "My" - My lambs, My sheep. Love is not for the ministry, love is not for the work in itself. Oh, we can love to preach, we can love to work, to be in the work. We can love the whole system of Christian organization, activity, and all that, and find a great deal of satisfaction in it and place for ourselves, but it is not that at all. It is not love for the ministry, not even for tending and feeding. There is an awful snare in that. The love lies in this, 'Because they are Mine, just because they are Mine, and yours is a love for Me, anything that is Mine becomes the object of your love and your devotion and your activity.' This is really a sifting out. You perhaps like to be in Christian work, you like to teach, to preach, to do things and you would say that it is for the Lord. But let us ask our own hearts, if it is because we really love that which is dear to the Lord, is that really the motive? Just because it is the Lord's will we pour ourselves out, break our hearts over it, will we really shed tears because of genuine love for our Lord and what matters to Him? Is it like that? Why are you doing what you are doing, whatever it is, in relation to the Lord's things? Sheep and lambs can be very trying and cause us almost despair, but love for the Lord and because they are His will keep us from giving them up.
Oh, I could break that up to apply it. I do not know what you are doing, but you may be doing various things. Where it is within the company of the Lord's people, you may be looking after the door and bringing the people in. You may be playing the instrument, you may be doing anything that people do in Christian work. Why are you doing it? Is it really out of a heart-love for the Lord, for the Lord Himself, because this is the Lord's, or can it be put down to anything less than that - you have been persuaded or appointed to do it. Really are you dong it from the heart as unto the Lord? This is for the Lord consciously and deliberately, He puts everything on that basis, The proof of love is our concern for what is His. It is just His, and that is all there is to it. It is something that counts for Him, that matters to Him, and I need no other persuasion, no other coercion, no other urge or invitation. It is because it is the Lord's, and that is enough.
The Mastery of Love
And then the mastery of love. "When thou wast young, thou girdest thyself, and walked whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not." When thou was young - in other words - you did as you liked; when you get old, you are going to do what you would not have done then. And love is going to make you do a lot of things you would not have done before. It is something more than 'like'; it is love. You are going to be mastered by another master than yourself and your own likes and preferences. You are going to do quite a lot out of love, because you are love-mastered, that you would never do otherwise. When love is the master, you are going ways you would never go otherwise.
Is not this something that discriminates between spiritual infancy and spiritual maturity? In effect, the Lord is saying here, 'In spiritual infancy and immaturity, people always do as they like, as they want to do, as they choose. But when you get to spiritual maturity it is no longer what you want or the way you would go, it is the way the other Master says, the Master Who is love.' The day comes when you say:
"My Master, lead me to Thy door;
Pierce this now willing ear once more:"
"At length my will is all Thine own,
Glad vassal of a Saviour's throne."
(continued with # 8