Monday, October 06, 2008

The following piece is about the perfect liberty of Spiritual love. Timothy Titcomb speaks to the difference of doing good works out of duty or following the law (legalism) and doing these same things out of devotion to Christ and from a natural outpouring of love as his illustration so clearly describes.

“I apprehend nothing as Christian duty which does not naturally flow out from Christian love. All those actions which love naturally dictates and performs, if performed by any individual as simple duties – performed grudgingly and difficultly – amount to nothing as Christian actions. They become simply bald acts of morality, and have no connection with religion. Let me not be misunderstood, Love may constrain to acts that, for various reasons, are difficult to performance; but difficult acts, performed from a simple sense of duty – acts in no way growing out of love – acts performed only for the satisfaction of conscience and for the acquisition of mental peace – are not Christian acts, essentially, and cannot be made to appear as such.
Perhaps my meaning will be more exactly apprehended by the use of illustrations.

A woman finds herself the mother of a family of children, whom she loves as her own life. It is against the law that she turn them out of doors, or kill them, or maltreat them in any way. Does she feel the restraint of these laws? Dies she ever think of their existence? Do they curtail her liberty to any extent? Not at all, for her love is her law. Rising now into the realm of duty, we see that she owes to them the preparation of their food, the care of their persons and clothing, ministry in sickness, home education, sympathy in trouble, discipline for disobedience, and all motherly offices. Now do these duties come to her simply as duties? Does she feed and clothe her children, minister to them in sickness, educate them and sympathize with them, from a sense of duty? Ah, no! In the domain of motherly duty, love is her law, and the performance of these duties is simply the natural outflow and expression of the love which she bears to her children.
The stronger and the more perfect her love, the smaller the restraints of law and the constraints of duty; and when this love becomes, as in many instances it does become, an all-absorbing passion, law and duty, in connection with her relation to her children, are things she never even dreams of. Her neighbors may call her a slave to her children, but she knows that she is in the enjoyment of a most delicious liberty, the liberty to do precisely those things which please her most, inspired by a love that knows neither law nor duty.

Suppose now that this mother were to die and a step-mother take her place. She may find among those children one so intractable and ungrateful that it would be a pleasure to her to turn it out of the house, but the law prevents. She then looks upon law as a restraint upon her liberty. But, in the place she has taken, she perceives that she owes duties to this family of children. She has an intellectual appreciation of the duties of her office, and undertakes to perform them. We will suppose that, from a simple sense of duty, she devotes herself to them as thoroughly as their own mother did before her. Under circumstances like these, duty would become a burden and bondage. What was almost a divine liberty with the mother, becomes to the step-mother a crushing slavery. Conscientious but unloving, she wears out a life of servitude to duty, and of course is most unhappy.
Ah, this liberty! How little have we of it in the world! How we go groping, and mourning, and wailing through darkness - walled in by law, goaded on by a sense of duty, and filled with the fears which perfect love casts out, when all the while there hang above us crowns within our reach, which, grasped, would make us kings. Oh, it is very pitiful - this sight of Christian slaves! Most pitiful, however, does it become, when we comprehend the fact that in this slavery many think they find the evidence of their Christianity."
Painting by Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema


ForHisSake said...

"Most pitiful, however, does it become, when we comprehend the fact that in this slavery many think they find the evidence of their Christianity."

How many poor souls I have known who have suffered for years under this yoke. In most cases it is due to "self-centered" love--caring more about their own soul than they do about the souls of others. They even evangelize out of duty and then live secret lives of quite despair or loud lives of prideful arrogance.

The words of Paul come to mind:

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Thank you, Fred, for this post - You have no idea how timely it is.

Blessings to you and your family,

Joseph Pulikotil said...

Hi Fred!

Very interesting and thought provoking post and worth mulling about it!

Mothers love for their children is something very unique and extremely special. A young girl will not have it unless she becomes a mother. So motherhood is a prime requisite for that special desire, affection, attention, care called the all encompassing mother’s love.

Mothers will do any thing for their own children but not for the children of other mothers. They will starve to ensure their children eat, they will shiver in cold but see their children are warm and why not, they will even give up their lives for the sake of their children.

Men are not capable of understanding that kind of love or even giving it. As I said earlier, even a girl is incapable of that kind of love until she becomes a mother herself.

Take a look at the animal kingdom. The he- animals walk off but the mothers take all the burden of bringing up, protecting, hunting and feeding the little ones till they are capable of fending for themselves.

Therefore, to find a Christian performing a Christian duty with Christian love – a love comparable to mother’s love – will be quite difficult for the simple reason most of us don’t really understand what is mother’s love.

Thanks for the great post!

Have a good day!

Mel said...

It is so incredible that you would post this today... Last week it was my turn to speak to the kids during our Awana class. During the day I was asking God to plant questions in my heart that would really get the kids thinking. One of the questions I believe He inspired was "Is there anyone in your life that you love so much, that when you work for them it doesn't even seem like work at all?"

And every single child answered that their mothers or grandmothers were those people in their lives. It was a meaningful time of sharing during which every single one of the children involved were fully engaged and lit up with bright enthusiasm. :)

FCB said...

Hi D.L.,
This Christian walk is a difficult affair, we hear so much of what we should be doing, feeling or thinking, that we feel compelled to do. And what's worse, we feel less if we don't do, even when we haven't heard from the Lord what to do or even have a relationship developed where we know His voice. So we stumble and stagger along and it breeds this legalism or works out of duty and not loving service. But, that said, good deeds are good even if the motives need maturing. Maturity comes if we seek Him.

Hi Joseph,
Yes a mother's love is a very special devotion. Although I do think that when one is devoted to Christ with a whole heart that we sense his great love for people, often complete strangers. I think Mother Teresa is a prime example of that, but there are special times when all Christians serve others that a holy love and compassion encompasses us that is unique and words fail to express.
Ah, but to have this frequently surely is a sign of great holiness. I'm going to do a post next that kind of touches this.
As always Joseph, I enjoy your unique insights.

Hi Mel,
What a great question to ask the kids; I'm sure it made them think.
Awana is such a great program, shoot, any program with kids is great. I led games for a couple of years and had such a good time with the kids. I'll bet your kids love it.
God bless,