In 2 Corinthians 6:6 the apostle mentions the motives of his zeal for the cause of Christ: “By goodness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned.” Goodness indicates general benevolence and readiness to sacrifice; of these we find among worldly people many examples that make us ashamed. Then come the stimulating and animating influences of the Holy Spirit; lastly, Love unfeigned which is the true, real, and divine Love.
In his hymn of eternal Love [1 Cor. 13] the apostle gives us an exquisite delineation of this “Love unfeigned,” which shall not cease to command the admiration of the saints on earth as long as taste for heavenly melodies shall dwell in their hearts.
This [chapter] teaches how the Holy Spirit performs His work of Love. And so, says the apostle, must the fruit of His work be in our hearts. Very well; if such is the glorious fruit of His work and people know the tree by its fruit, may we not conclude that this is but the description of His own work of Love?
The means employed by the Holy Spirit in the shedding abroad of the Love of God in our hearts is simply Love. By loving us He teaches love. By applying love to us, by expending love upon us, He inculcates love on us. It is the Love of the Holy Spirit whereby the shedding abroad of love in our hearts has become possible. As, according to 1 Corinthians 13, Love ought to manifest itself in our lives, so has the Holy Spirit wrought it in our hearts. With endless long-suffering and touching kindness He sought to win us. Of the love which we gave to the Father and the Son He was never envious, but rejoiced in it. His Love never made a display of us by leading us into unendurable temptations. It never impressed us as being self-seeking but always as ministering love. It ever accommodated itself to the needs and conditions of our hearts. However much grieved, it was never provoked. It never misunderstood or suspected us, but ever stimulated us to new hope. Wherefore it rejoiced not in iniquity to sanctify it, but when the truth prevailed in us. And when we had strayed and done wrong, it covered the wrong, whispering in our ear that it still believed and hoped all good things of us. Wherefore it endured in us all evil, all unloveliness, all contradictions. It failed us not like a lamp that goes out in the dark. The Love of the Holy Spirit never faileth. And while we enjoy here all its sweetness and tenderness, it prophesies that only hereafter will it manifest the fullness of its brightness and glory, for on earth it is known only in part. Its perfect bliss shall appear only when, looking no more by means of the glass at the phenomenal, we shall behold the eternal verities. For whatever may fail, being among all our spiritual blessings the highest, the richest, and therefore the greatest, Love shall abide forever.