LIFE IN EXILE
CHAPTER 7 Sacrificial Love
Love the Lord Above All Else
In our daily life, are we aware of the various forms of cross that the Lord has arranged for us? They may not be very heavy or huge. For instance: “Is it right or proper for me to say such words?;” “Will these words bring glory to God or not?;” “Will they edify brothers and sisters?;” or “Should I do this?;” “Should I purchase this?;” “Do I treasure and hold tightly the things of the world?;” “As far as earthly matters are concerned, am I worldly?;” “In dealing with money, am I a servant of Mammon?” This is by no means an insignificant issue.
During the “Elimination of the Counter-Revolutionary Movement” in China in 1956, we clearly noted that none of those who served Mammon, loved themselves and lived for themselves was able to withstand the trials. All of them, including quite a number of preachers, fell during the trials. If you are like them, then no matter how zealous you are in the church, how great your work is, how well you preach or how well-known you are, you are bound to fall on that day. As Jesus said, the only kind of person who can follow Him is: one who loves the Lord above all things and is willing to deny himself and sacrifice his all for the Lord (Luke 14:25-33). Only such a person can shine during fiery trials and be safeguarded and carried through by the Lord.
A well-known preacher in China once compromised with the power of darkness during the great trial. What was the reason? This was what he told me from his own lips,1 “I thought of my wife who’d been with me since the days of our youth. We complemented each other, served together and had a loving relationship. Who’d care for her if I were imprisoned? Besides, as the only son-in-law of my wife’s aging mother, I also worried that she’d die sorrowfully if I were imprisoned. Haunted by such concerns, my heart simply melted; I fell and even denied the Lord.” The fall lasted for a length of eight years. He added, “Nevertheless, I’m Peter, not Judas.” Thank God for giving him the strength to repent (Acts 5:31; Lam. 5:21), confess and return to Him.
Such realities of life show us that we cannot be followers of the Lord if we do not love Him more than our parents, our spouses, our children and even our own lives. All is well in quiet and peaceful times; but as soon as trials hit, all is exposed. Therefore, we need to seriously search our hearts before the Lord to see if we can truly declare, “Whom have I in heaven but You? And there is none upon earth that I desire beside You” (Psa. 73:25). Can the Lord testify that my heart has arrived at that state? May the Lord show us His deep grace and mercy.
None other than The Lord is the most lovable. God has loved us without any reservation; He has loved us as He has loved our Lord Jesus (John 17:23b). This is clearly demonstrated by His giving us freely His only Son, as well as all things together with His Son Jesus our Lord (Rom. 8:32). Moreover, God Himself abides in us through the Holy Spirit. The Lord Jesus has loved us so much – He descended to this humble world of indescribable darkness. The Bible says, “the light shines in darkness; and the darkness comprehends it not” (John 1:5.). It was for our sake that he experienced all kinds of human suffering and was at last crucified on the cursed Cross in Calvary, receiving the judgment of the holy and righteous God. Actually, the Lord has the right to demand our whole-hearted love for Him. We, however, love Him halfheartedly, or love ourselves first. We are told in chapter 3 of II Timothy, “in the last days, perilous days will come.” In the original text, the word “love” was used four times: love of oneself, love of money, love of pleasure, rather than love of God. Lawlessness will abound and the love of many will grow cold. In time, people will love only themselves. Look around us and at ourselves; aren’t we like that too? Do we love ourselves, money and pleasure rather than love God? If we do, then we shall be in a most pitiful state when we appear before the Judgment Seat of Jesus Christ. Our knowledge, eloquence and good sermons will all be wood, hay and straw that will be reduced to futile ashes.
May the Lord’s mercy be on us. If we do not presently love the Lord above all things, may He encourage and constrain us with His love (II Cor. 5:14), so that we may dedicate ourselves to Him and, by His work of grace, love Him above all else.
1. In 1979, we left the Labor Camp successively. He, too, took up residence in Shanghai. For almost a year, I visited him and his wife twice a week.