Man’s love, however, is not the real love. Human love is like a glove. A glove has the likeness of a hand. Why is a glove made in this form? It is so that a real hand may get into it. The glove is intended to be the container of the hand. Human love is only the container for the divine love. This is true of all the human virtues. When there are gloves without hands, the gloves are empty. The gloves are not made for themselves; they are made for the hands. Human virtues are gloves; the divine virtues are the hand.
We need love, but our love is merely a container. The real love as the contents is the divine love. If we love someone by our own love, without having God’s love in it, our love is empty. In the teachings of Confucius the goal is to develop the created human virtues. When I used to preach the gospel in China, I would tell my hearers that they had only the glove without the hand. Now I was presenting the hand to them. Who was the hand? Christ! Confucius, for example, taught submission; a woman was to submit herself first to her father, then to her husband, and then to her son. This submission, I said, is a glove. Sometimes we may be able to succeed in it, but such submission is empty and false. We appear to submit, but actually we are gritting our teeth. Now I offer you the hand to fill your empty glove. Christ is the real submission!
I do not mean that Christians should have no regard for morality. Our behavior should be of the highest moral standard. We have not only the glove but also the hand! Our morality is higher and more practical. When Jesus Christ was living on this earth, His ethics were the highest. Whose ethics can exceed those of Jesus? These are the ethics we are living today. We have not only the glove, but the hand in the glove! Surely the ethics or morality in the local churches exceed the common practice.
In our daily life, however, all too often we do not have this realization of the distinction between the hand and the glove. Many times these past few years I have had to make confession, not of my failures or my hatred, but of my love or my kindness. Many times I have loved without the love of Christ. I have loved as an elderly, experienced man. It is no longer easy for me to be irritated. When I was young and inexperienced, my temper could easily flare up. Now that I am close to eighty, the fire is quenched. I am not easily provoked. It is easy for me to be good. How I have come to hate my goodness! I have had to confess to the Lord, “Today from morning till evening I have been good to everyone without You. Forgive me. I have given message after message to the saints, charging them to live You, yet I myself have been a failure nearly the entire day. I have not lived You. I have lived myself. I have lived an elderly, experienced man. Forgive me, Lord Jesus.”
My younger brother has been here for many months now. He himself will agree that whenever he has come to see me, I have always treated him in a kindly way. Nonetheless, I have had to tell the Lord that I did not live Christ to my brother. Since he came, I believe he has not gained much Christ through me; I have ministered very little Christ to him. I have treated him well and done many kind things for him. Yet I have repented to the Lord, “Lord, forgive me. May Your blood cleanse me that I have not lived You to my brother.”
In your daily realization you have no sense of how naturally good you are. If you tell a lie to a brother, your conscience will immediately prick you. How could you have lied to a brother? You may never have lied to a brother; you have done only good to him. Have you ever repented of the good you have done to a brother? If you receive the mercy to repent of doing good to others, you are very much graced by the Lord.
It would be helpful to pray-read the verses listed at the beginning of the message. John 1:12-13 tells us that we have been born of God. If we are born of someone, we surely have that one’s life and nature. Since we have been born of God, surely we have His life and nature. This is not to say that we are objects of worship. We are not the Godhead; only the Godhead is to be worshipped. We are the children of God, and we are like Him because we have His life and nature. God has been born into us. How marvelous this is!
(God's Eternal Intention and Satan's Counterplot, Chapter 1, by Witness Lee)