Still plugging away in Thomas Watson’s beautiful exposition of Romans 8:28. He’s currently unpacking the phrase, “…to them who love God…”
He gives a wonderful list of “tests” or “fruits” to check our love for God. If all things work together for the good for those who love God, then it behooves us to know if we are those who love God. In Watson’s list is # 9 “If we are lovers of God, we love what God loves.” We love God’s word, God’s day, God’s laws and God’s picture.
Wait. “God’s picture”?
Watson says the saints, the redeemed, are “God’s picture”. “His image shining in the saints.” So basically, he’s arguing the same point John argued in 1 John 4:20 when he writes,
“For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.”
One of the tests to see if we are lovers of God is our love for those God has loved. Follow that? If we love God, we will love his saints. We will love those he has called out of darkness to walk along with us toward the heavenly city. Watson argues that we are to love the saints in four cases –
- We love a saint though he be poor. Though a saint be in rags, we love him, because there is something of Christ in him.
- We love a saint though he has many personal failings. There is no perfection here. In some, rash anger prevails; in some, inconstancy; in some, too much love of the world. A saint in this life is like gold in the ore, much dross of infirmity cleaves to him, yet we love him for the grace that is in him. The best emerald has its blemishes…and the best of the saints have their failings. You that cannot love another because of his infirmities, how would you have God love you?
- We love the saints though in some lesser things they differ from us. Where there is union in fundamentals, there ought to be union in affections.
- We love the saints, though they are persecuted. We love precious metal, though it be in the furnace. We must love a saint as well in chains as in scarlet. If we love Christ, we love His persecuted members.
What good reminders from dear Pastor Watson. Written so long ago and just as timely for today and our own modern struggle to live and move within the local church. I found myself asking tough questions while reading this. Why do I migrate toward certain people in the church and not others? Why do I tend to pray for certain people and forget others? Why do I talk the way I do (or think the way I do!) about others in the local church. They are members of my Savior’s body. How dare I take their names in vain or think lightly about them.
Do you love the saints? It’s not easy. But viewing them as “God’s picture” is an excellent way to make sure your foundation is laid for thinking about them correctly. And if we think about them correctly, our attitude and behavior toward them will follow accordingly.