How a love of Jesus enables suffering


Commenting on “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake”, Thomas Watson shows that it is the love of Christ and not stoicism which enables the true Christian believer to suffer for the righteousness of Christ:

Love is passive; it enables to suffer. A man that loves his friend will suffer anything for him rather than he shall be wronged… Love made our dear Lord suffer for us. …So love will make its way to Christ through the prison and the furnace.

But all pretend love to Christ. How shall we know that we have such a love to him as will make us suffer? I answer: True love is a love of friendship, which is genuine and ingenuous when we love Christ for himself. There is a mercenary and meretricious love, when we love divine objects for something else. A man may love the queen of truth for the jewel at her ear, because she brings preferment. A man may love Christ for his ‘head of gold’ (Canticles 5:11), because he enriches with glory. But true love is when we love Christ for his loveliness, namely, that infinite and superlative beauty which shines in him, as Augustine says, ‘We love Jesus on account of Jesus’; that is, as a man loves sweet wine for itself.

True love is a love of desire, when we desire to be united to Christ as the fountain of happiness. Love desires union. The soul that loves Christ is ambitious of death because this dissolution tends to union. Death slips one knot and ties another.

True love is a love of benevolence, when so far as we are able we endeavour to lift up Christ’s name in the world. As the wise men brought him ‘gold and frankincense’ (Matthew 2: 11), so we bring him our tribute of service and are willing that he should rise though it be by our fall. In short, that love which is kindled from heaven makes us give Christ the pre-eminence of our affection. …Indeed we can never love Christ too much. We may love gold in the excess, but not Christ. The angels do not love Christ to his worth. Now when love is boiled up to this height, it will enable us to suffer. ‘Love is strong as death’. The martyrs first burned in love, and then in fire.

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