A century ago a hymn was often sung in the churches, the first stanza of which ran like this:‘Tis a point I long to know, Oft it causes anxious thought, Do I love the Lord, or no! Am I His, or am I not?
Those who thus confessed their spiritual anxiety were serious-minded, honest men and women who could open their hearts to each other in this manner without self-consciousness or loss of face. It is an evidence of the essential frivolity of the modern religious mind that this hymn is never sung today, and if mentioned from the pulpit at all it is quoted humorously as proof that those who once sang it were not up on the doctrine of grace. Why ask, “Do I love the Lord, or no?” when any number of personal workers stand by to quote convenient texts from the New Testament to prove that we do? But we had better not be too cocksure. The gravest question any of us face is whether we do or do not love the Lord. Too much hinges on the answer to pass the matter off lightly. And it is a question that no one can answer for another. Not even the Bible can tell the individual man that he loves the Lord; it can only tell him how he can know whether or not he does. It can and does tell us how to test our hearts for love as a man might test ore for the presence of uranium, but we must do the testing.
When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?’ ‘Yes, Lord,’ he said, ‘You know that I love you.’ Jesus said, ‘Feed my lambs.’ John 21:15
Vehemently Peter had declared that though all others fall away he would never disown his Lord even if it meant his death (Mark 14:27-31). In the intervening hours the test came and Peter failed. He recognizes the weakness of his love and the Lord begins
Easy enough, Lord, to sing hymns and choruses declaring my love for You. But do I love You with agape love? Perfect my love.