Wednesday, February 1, 2017

A Brakel On Neighbor Love

The following passage is from Wilhelmus A Brakel’s The Christian’s Reasonable Ser vice. It is the conclusion to chapter 82, “Love For One’s Neighbor”. While I commend the entire chapter, I thought this was a particularly helpful bit of advice.

Guidelines for the Proper Exercise of Love 
It almost seems to me that I have done needless work in stirring you up by way of various arguments to love — as if light needed a recommendation, or that fire is rendered more pleasant by way of rational argument. The mere mention of love is enough to stir you up. Begin to undertake this task and it will become all the more sweet to you. 
(1) Let the initiative to love come from you and do not wait for another person to make the first move. Even if you are the very least among the godly, the love of children is sweet and even kindles the love of adults. 

(2) Do not seek to receive love in return; however, if you receive it, do not let it end in yourself. Rather, thank the Lord for the refreshment and the quickening you enjoy as a result of this. If you do not receive love in return, let it neither trouble nor hinder you, for you are not worthy of being loved. Let it be sufficient to you permitted and able to love. 
(3) Let there be high esteem for the grace which is or appears to be in another person. Be not suspicious, but be quick to accept it as being genuine. Grace can be very feeble in someone, and it will not harm you to love someone as a godly person who is unconverted. Is it not your desire and obligation to love others? 
(4) The offenses and falls of others must impede you in your love, for even great grace can coexist with great corruption — how much more this is true when grace is feeble. You do not know how much strife another has concerning these faults, how much he grieves over them in secret, and with how many tears and prayers he seeks forgiveness. 
(5) Show much love in your countenance, words, and entire conduct — even if the heart is somewhat lukewarm. It is not hypocritical when we externally manifest and conduct ourselves as we ought to be while striving to involve our heart in this as well, even though we cannot do as we desire. While thus engaged, our heart will become more and more involved. However, to wish to create appearance, while being differently disposed in the heart, is hypocrisy. Showing love will cause the heart to increase in love. 

(6) Permit that light and grace which is in you, be it ever so feeble, to shine forth. Manifest it, and conduct yourself as such, doing so not for your sake by seeking honor, but because God commands you to do so, and in order that others might have the opportunity to exercise the virtue of love.
(7) Be much in prayer to the Lord, for love proceeds from Him. Of yourself and in your own strength, you will neither attain to nor increase this love. If you are thus engaged, the Lord will grant you the more grace and cause you to grow, until He will take you into the perfect love of eternal glory. 
- Wilhelmus A Brakel. Volume 4 of The Christian’s Reasonable Service, (pp. 64-65.)

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