The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. (1 Timothy 1:5)
Faith in God’s grace expels from the heart the sinful powers that hinder love.
If we feel guilty, we tend to wallow in self-centered depression and self-pity, unable to see, let alone care, about anyone else’s need. Or we play the hypocrite to cover our guilt, and so destroy all sincerity in relationships. Or we talk about other people’s faults to minimize the guilt of our own.
It’s the same with fear. If we feel fearful, we tend not to approach a stranger at church who might need a word of welcome and encouragement. Or we may reject frontier missions for our lives, because it sounds too dangerous. Or we may waste money on excessive insurance, or get swallowed up in all manner of little phobias that make us preoccupied with ourselves and blind us to the needs of others.
If we are greedy, we may spend money on luxuries — money that ought to go to the spread of the gospel. We don’t undertake anything risky, lest our precious possessions and our financial future be jeopardized. We focus on things instead of people, or see people as resources for our material advantage.
Faith in future grace produces love by pushing guilt and fear and greed out of the heart.
It pushes out guilt because it holds fast to the hope that the death of Christ is sufficient to secure acquittal and righteousness now and forever (Hebrews 10:14).
It pushes out fear because it banks on the promise, “Fear not, for I am with you. . . . I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10).
And it pushes out greed because it is confident that Christ is greater wealth than all the world can offer (Matthew 13:44).
In every case the glory of Christ is magnified when we are more satisfied with his future grace than we are with the promises of sin.