II. THE MOTIVE OF CONSECRATION—GOD’S LOVE
The motive of consecration refers to one’s heart in consecration. In order to have a good consecration, we not only need to realize its basis; we also need to have a motive. Although one knows the basis of consecration as having been bought and redeemed by God, yet this realization may not be sufficient to touch his feeling, move his heart, and cause him to consecrate himself willingly to God. If the things which God purchased were inanimate objects, such as a chair or a garment, He could proceed directly to use them as He pleases. But what God has redeemed today are living persons, each with a mind, an affection, and a will. Although God wants to have us, we may not be happy to let Him have us. Although God has the legal right and basis to possess us, we may not have the heart to let Him do so. Therefore, when God desires us to consecrate ourselves to Him, He must move our heart. He must give us the motive of love that we might be willing to consecrate ourselves to Him.
The motive of consecration is the love of God. Whenever the Holy Spirit sheds abroad the love of God in our hearts, we will naturally be willing to become the prisoners of love and consecrate ourselves to God. This kind of consecration, motivated by the love of God, is mentioned very clearly in two places in the Scriptures: 2 Corinthians 5:14-15 and Romans 12:1.
Second Corinthians 5:14-15 says: “For the love of Christ constraineth us (constraineth in the original has the meaning of the rushing of waters)…and He died for all, that they that live should no longer live unto themselves, but unto him who for their sakes died and rose again.” In other words, these verses tell us that the dying love of Christ is like the rushing of great waters toward us, impelling us to consecrate ourselves to God and to live for Him beyond our own control.
Romans 12:1 says, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living sacrifice.” The mercies referred to here are the love of God. Therefore, in this place also, Paul is seeking to move our hearts with the love of God. He would cause us to have the motive of love, so that we might consecrate ourselves willingly to God as a living sacrifice. We see from these two passages that the love of God is the motive of consecration.
In a normal consecration this motive of love is very necessary. If our consecration rests solely on the basis of consecration, the realization of God’s right to us, this consecration will only be based on reason; it will lack sweetness and intensity. But if our consecration has love as its motive, if our feelings have been touched by the love of God, the constraint of this love will cause us to consecrate ourselves willingly to God. This consecration will then be sweet and intense.
The marriage relationship of a husband and wife is a case in point. If it rests solely on the basis of right, it will be difficult for their life to be harmonious and sweet. A true marriage relationship not only rests on the basis of right, but the more on love. Because the wife loves her husband, she becomes one with him and lives with him. So it is in a true consecration to God. When we touch the love of God and see that He truly is lovely, we will then consecrate ourselves to Him. Thus, although consecration based on love changes according to our mood, yet, on the other hand, intense consecration is the result of constraining love. Those who have not had the experience of being constrained by the love of the Lord will not have a consecration that is good and intense. This is quite evident.
Number 101 in our hymnbook* (When I Survey the Wondrous Cross) tells also a story of consecration because of the love of the Lord. It says that whenever I think of that love which saved me, I count everything but loss, because this love is so great. It goes on to say that I see His condition on the cross, His head, His hands, and His feet flowing with sorrow, love, and blood. All this because He loves me! Having seen such a love as this, if I offered to Him the entire universe, I would still feel ashamed, because His love is so noble, so excelling. If I should seek to repay His love, then I do not recognize His love; I even defile it. His love is like a priceless pearl, while my consecration is like filthy rags—we are simply unworthy of Him. One day, when the Spirit sheds this love abroad in our hearts, we too will have such intense consecration.
Even after we have consecrated ourselves and have followed the Lord in the way of consecration, we need unceasingly the constraint of His love in order that we may touch its sweetness. In the way of consecration one often suffers pain and loss, and only those who frequently touch the love of the Lord can find sweetness in their pain. Though the early apostles were much despised and imprisoned, they considered their suffering a glorious and joyful thing, since they were deemed worthy to be insulted for the Lord’s name (Acts 5:40-41). The martyrs throughout the generations could joyfully accept the suffering of death and were not willing to forsake the Lord’s name, because they had touched the sweetness of the Lord and had been constrained by His love. The love between us and the Lord, therefore, must always be renewed. The motive of love must be maintained in us in order that our consecration and service may always be fresh and sweet.
In conclusion, a stable and intense consecration requires these two aspects: one aspect is to have a basis, that is, to realize that I myself have been bought by God, that I belong to Him, and that I ought to consecrate myself to Him; the other aspect is to have a motive, that is, to see that the love of God toward me is indeed very great, and that this love constrains me so that I willingly consecrate myself to Him.
(The Experience of Life, Chapter 3, by Witness Lee)