Thomas Watson writes: “Is this a distinguishing mark of a godly man, to be a lover of the saints? Then how sad it is to see this grace of love in an eclipse.” Love is to be a distinguishing mark of the Christian. Christ indicates that love is the summation of the law (cf. Matthew 22:26-30). Why can love encompass the entire law? How is it that love can carry such a burden?
Ultimately the root of sin comes from our love of something. Notice that Paul teaches Timothy that the love of money is the root of evil (1 Timothy 6:10). What we love controls our desires and as those desires are set before us what we want to give into. Ultimately, if we did not love it, we would not give in to sin.
This concept that we will give into what we love draws forth a greater principle: how do we avoid sin? By replacing our love for sin (or what it is that causes us to sin) with a love of something else. Quite simply, our love for something or someone else must be greater than our love for sin.
We read in Matthew the following: “Teach what is the greatest commandment in the law. Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Such words must be read with a great profundity because there is a great weight behind them. They establish a great connection between love and sin or the avoidance of sin. If we love God, we keep His commands (John 14:15). It’s the same in our relationships. if we love those around us we will seek their good, not their harm. A love for one’s spouse should keep them from adultery; love for a neighbor will seek to resolve issues; a love for people will seek to share the gospel. The grandest of this all is a love for God because a love for God replaces a love for anything else.
Many will say a godly person will not indulge in sin. Many more will say a godly person will love. Few will recognize that those two concepts are related. We avoid sin by our love for God and others. Love covers, love motivates, and love causes godliness for those who have a love for God.
Each week Tim Challies has been reading through a portion of The Godly Man’s Picture by Thomas Watson and then writing a response article based on those readings. I have been following along, sharing my own thoughts as well. You can read Tim Challies’ thoughts at challies.com. This week concludes sections 17-19 and you can read my previous posts by clicking the following links:
- The Many Uses of Patience
- 7 Virtues of the Holy Spirit
- Christ: A Treasure Above All
- A Christless Christianity
- The Prayerlessness of the Guilty
Come back next week as I continue on in the book.
Photo “My God, So Pure and Undefiled” courtesy of user Coram Deo and Flickr.