The Evidence of a True Christian Love for the Brethren

I Thessalonians 1:2; 3:12
       We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers…and the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you.

JOHN BUNYAN (1628-1688): The grace of love is as gold. It is the greatest, the richest of graces, and that which abides for ever. Hence they that show much love to the saints are said to be rich, I Timothy 6:17-19. And hence charity [love] is called a treasure, a treasure in the heavens, Luke 12:33,34.

WILLIAM GURNALL (1617-1679): Love to the brethren is oft given as a character of a true saint.

RALPH ERSKINE (1685-1752): But how may we know, if our love toward the children of God be of the right sort?

WILLIAM GURNALL: This would be an undoubted evidence to prove ourselves saints—could we but heartily pray for them that are such.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): I will aver no man loves the brethren who does not pray for them. What! It is the very least thing you can do, and if you do not perform the least, you certainly will fail in the greater. You do not love the brethren unless you pray for them, and then it follows [that if you don’t pray for them] you are dead in trespasses and sins―I deny his saintship if he does not pray for others.

WILLIAM GURNALL: Now, no act whereby we express our love to saints stands more clear from scruples of insincerity than this of praying for them. Will you say you love the saints because you frequent their company, show kindness to their persons, stand up in their defence against those that reproach them, or because you can suffer with them? All this is excellent, if sincere; yet how easy is it for vain-glory, or some other carnal end, to mingle with these! But if thou canst find thy heart in secret—where none of these temptations have such an advantage to corrupt thee—let out to God for them with a deep sense and feeling of their sins, wants, and sorrows, this will speak more for the sincerity of thy love, than all the former without this.

C. H. SPURGEON: Christ in His holy Gospel has made it your duty and your privilege to intercede for others. When He taught us to pray, He said, “Our Father,” and the expressions which follow are not in the singular but the plural—“Give us this day our daily bread;” “Forgive us our debts;” “Lead us not into temptation;” evidently intending to set forth that none of us are to pray for ourselves alone, that while we have sometimes prayers so bitter that they must be personal like the Saviour’s own—“Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me;” yet, as a rule, our prayers should be public prayers, though offered in private; and even in secret we should not forget the church of the living God.

A. W. PINK (1886-1952): The measure of our love for others can largely be determined by the frequency and earnestness of our prayers for them.

C. H. SPURGEON: Think you, if you will, of Paul, of whom even more than of others it could be said, that he never ceased to remember the saints in his prayers, “making mention of you daily in my prayers,” stopping in the very midst of the epistle [to the Ephesians] and saying, “For which cause I bow my knee unto the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, ” Ephesians 3:14,15.

F. W. KRUMMACHER (1796-1868): Pray for yourselves, pray for all.

WILLIAM GURNALL: Though we are to pray for all saints, yet some call for a more special remembrance at our hands…Ye are to pray particularly for those that are in distress: whoever ye forget, remember these: this is a fit season for love. A friend for adversity is as proper as fire for a winter’s day: Job’s friends chose the right time to visit him, but took not the right course of improving their visit: had they spent the time in praying for him which they did in hot disputes with him, they had profited him and pleased God more.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): And, unquestionably, it is not in vain that the Lord has appointed this exercise of love between us—that we pray for each other. Not only, therefore, ought each of us to pray for his brethren, but we ought also, on our part, diligently to seek help from the prayers of others, as often as occasion requires.

WILLIAM GURNALL: The love we owe to our brethren [also] requires that we should desire others to pray for us. The saints here live where none else love them but themselves, therefore they had need make much of one another.

JOHN CALVIN:Pray also for us,” Colossians 1:3. Paul does not say this by way of pretense, but because being conscious to himself of his own necessity, he was earnestly desirous to be aided by their prayers, and was fully persuaded that they would be of advantage to [him and his companions]. Who then, in the present day, would dare to despise the intercessions of brethren, which Paul openly declares himself to stand in need of?

WILLIAM GURNALL: We are to desire others to pray for us, to express the humble sense we have of our own weakness, and the need we have of others’ help. Humble souls are fearful of their own strength. They that have little, desire partners with them in their trade; but when they conceit their own private stock to be sufficient, then they can trade by themselves. “Now ye are full, now ye are rich; ye have reigned as kings without us,” saith Paul of the self-conceited Corinthians…Certainly, as it shows want of charity not to pray for others, so [it shows] no want of pride not to desire prayers from others.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): Even the best of Christians need to be prayed for.

C. H. SPURGEON: As the body is knit together by bands and sinews, and interlacing nerves and veins, so is the whole body of Christ converted into a living unity by mutual prayers.

JOHN CALVIN: When we mutually pray one for another, and obtain our desire, the glory of God is so much the more set forth, inasmuch as we all acknowledge, with thanksgiving, God’s benefits—both those that are conferred publicly upon the whole Church, and also those that are bestowed privately upon individuals.

GEORGE WHITEFIELD (1714-1770): It is most God-like to be frequent in intercession. It is the constant employment of the Son of God in heaven.

C. H. SPURGEON: Intercessory prayer is an act of communion with Christ, for Jesus pleads for the sons of men. It is a part of His priestly office to make intercession for His people.

MATTHEW HENRY: And, while we hear well of our Christian friends, we should think ourselves obliged to intercede with God for them, that they may abound and increase yet more and more.

A. W. PINK (1886-1952): Oh that it may please the God of all grace to fit you to become a secret but effectual intercessor, one whose groans and tears have power with God.


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