I heard a Christian man say that it was not the preaching of judgment that led him to Christ, but it was the story of a Saviour’s love, who had died for such a sinner as he, that broke and won his heart.
He knew and felt that he deserved judgment, and that, had God seen fit to condemn him for ever in hell it was only what he merited. But that awful fact did not win, it only terrified and drove him further away.
“It was the Saviours loving kindness
Overcame and won his heart.”
And that was no passing emotion in his soul. It has endured for over thirty long years of varied trial, and is, to all appearance, as mighty a motive as ever.
First love is a charming thing. Alas, that it should ever be left. What freshness, and warmth, what fervour and, magnetism it carries!
And how is “first love” produced? For an answer we must take two notable cases in Luke’s Gospel—In Luke 7:47, we read of a poor woman of the city—an undisguised sinner—who “loved much.” She loved Christ much. And why? Because her sins, which were many, were by Him forgiven—that was the reason, and a good one too. Ah! blessing begins just there.
The man who is not forgiven knows nothing whatever of the kindlings of that warm and lovely flame. He may patronize Christ, as did Simon, into whose Pharisaic abode she had followed the Lord; but cold critical Simon never heard, as she did, the sin-remitting sentence of the living Saviour, nor did he evince a spark of responding affection.
Patronage is not participation. Ten thousand times better be a pardoned sinner than a fulsome Pharisee, and to love for grace realised than to dream that you make God your debtor by courting Christianity. It won’t do!
The other case is in Luke 15:20—“His father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.”
Ah! that was the prodigal! no, it was his father. You will never appreciate that time-honoured tale, true once, true today, unless you see that the chief actor is the Father.
1. He had compassion.
2. He ran.
3. He fell on his neck.
4. He kissed him.
Ah! this tender, spontaneous love, ever on the Father’s side, it sprang in a bosom of pity and love. It flowed to a prodigal, a renegade, a rebel, on whose side there was confession, contrition, and confidence—great essentials in every true conversion—followed by garments of salvation and the fatted calf. Then they “began to be merry!”
Had there been no love for the prodigal he might have perished of hunger; but compassion—magnificent word—carried the day and won and welcomed the sinner. The attractive power of God’s love is infinite! It begets love!