And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us…
The doctrine is that Christ showed so much love in giving Himself for a propitiatory sacrifice to God for us, that thereby all true Christians are bound to walk in love.
I. LET ME OPEN THE EXAMPLE AND PATTERN HERE SET BEFORE US. And there I begin —
1. With the principle — "Christ also loved us." That was it which moved and inclined Him to so strange an undertaking as to die for our sins.
2. The act — "He gave Himself for us." Where you have the giver, the gift, and the parties interested.
(1) The Giver, Christ. He voluntarily first assumed a body. and then parted with His life for this use.
(2) The Gift was Himself. And both put together show that Christ was both Priest and Sacrifice; as God the Priest, as man the sacrifice: "He offered up Himself to God through the eternal Spirit " (Hebrews 9:14).
(3) The parties interested — "for us."
II. THE NATURE OF THE DUTY THENCE INFERRED, or what it is to "walk in love." To walk in love signifieth not one act or two, but the perpetual tenor of our lives; our whole life should be an exercise of love. But what love doth He mean? Either love to God and Christ, or love to men? I answer — I cannot exclude the former totally, for these reasons.
1. Love to men is of little worth unless it flow from love to God.
2. Because it is a genuine product of this great love of Christ to us: "We love Him because He loved us first" (1 John 4:19). To God Himself; we beat back His own beam and flame upon Himself first, and then to all that belong to Him.
3. Because not only the direct improvement of the love of Christ, but so much of the Christian life dependeth on the love of God, that it should not be excluded when we are discoursing of it (2 Corinthians 5:14, 15). The sense of this love should work in us certainly a great fervour of love to God, that may level and direct all our actions to His glory, and make us study to please Him. Well, then, if we take it in this sense, how are we to walk in love?I answer —
1. That love is to be at the bottom of all our actions and duties, that our whole religion may be but an acting of love, "Let all your things be done with charity" (1 Corinthians 16:14). If we pray, let us act the seeking love; if we praise God, let us act the delighting love; if we obey God, let us act the pleasing love.
2. Let us walk in love, all will be nothing else; but let us continue constant to the death in the profession of the Christian faith; for vehement pure Christian love casteth out all fear in danger. If we love Christ, we will run all hazards for His sake.
III. I come now to show you how WE ARE BOUND TO DO SO BY THE EXAMPLE OF CHRIST'S LOVE. And here I shall show you that it is both a motive and a pattern.
1. It is a motive to excite us to love Him, because the great thing that is remarkable in Christ's giving Himself as a sacrifice for us is love. You may conceive it by these considerations.
(1) To suffer for another is more than to do or act for him, for therein is more self-denial.
(2) To suffer death for another is the greatest obligation that we can put upon him (John 15:13).
(3) This is the highest expression of love to friends, but Christ did it for enemies, for the ungodly sinful world (Romans 5:7, 8).
(4) To suffer for the faults of another is the greatest condescension.
(5) Because this is not fit to be done among mankind, that the innocent should suffer capital punishment for the guilty. This was the wonderful act of God's grace to find such a strange and unusual sacrifice for us.
(6) That He should suffer to such ends, or that the consequent benefits should be so great, as the remission of sins and eternal life.
(7) That, with respect to the end, God and Christ took such pleasure in it (Isaiah 53:10).
2. It is a pattern which we should imitate.
(1) In the reality of it (1 John 3:18).
(2) In the freeness of it. He was not induced to it by any overture from us, but by His own love only (Ephesians 5:25).
(3) In the constancy of it. He was not discouraged when it came to push of pike (John 13:1).
(4) In the self-denial and condescension of it (Matthew 20:28). But because we cannot pursue all, two things I shall commend to you from this love of Christ.
(a) The kind of the love; it was a love of souls.
(b) The greatness and degree of this love. We must be ready to lay down our lives for the Church of God.Use
1. This love of Christ must be firmly believed.
2. It must be closely applied for our good and benefit, till we are duly affected with it, so as to make suitable returns to God; partly by devoting ourselves to Him (Romans 12:1), and partly by rendering our thank offerings of charity towards others (Hebrews 13:17).
(T. Manton, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.