1. If we love a person, we like to think about them.
We do not need to be reminded of them. We do not forget their name or their appearance or their character or their opinions or their tastes or their position or their occupation. They come up before our mind’s eye many a time in the day. Though perhaps far distant, they are often present in our thoughts. Well, it is just so between the true Christian and Christ! Christ “dwells in their heart,” and is thought of more or less every day (Eph. 3:17). The true Christian does not need to be reminded that they have a crucified Master. They often think of Him. They never forget that He has a day, a cause and a people, and that of His people they are one. Affection is the real secret of a good memory in religion. No worldly person can think much about Christ, unless Christ is pressed upon their notice, because they have no affection for Him. The true Christian has thoughts about Christ every day that they live, for this one simple reason that they love Him.
2. If we love a person, we like to hear about them.
We find a pleasure in listening to those who speak of them. We feel an interest in any report which others make of them. We are all at attention when others talk about them, and describe their ways, their sayings, their doings and their plans. Some may hear them mentioned with utter indifference, but our own hearts bound within us at the very sound of their name. Well, it is just so between the true Christian and Christ. The true Christian delights to hear something about their Master. They like those sermons best which are full of Christ. They enjoy that society most in which people talk of the things which are Christ’s. I have read of an old Welsh believer, who used to walk several miles every Sunday to hear an English clergyman preach, though she did not understand a word of English. She was asked why she did so. She replied, that this clergyman named the name of Christ so often in his sermons, that it did her good. She loved even the name of her Savior.
3. If we love a person, we like to read about them.
What intense pleasure a letter from an absent husband gives to a wife, or a letter from an absent son to his mother. Others may see little worth notice in the letter. They can scarcely take the trouble to read it through. But those who love the writer see something in the letter which no one else can. They carry it about with them as a treasure. They read it over and over again. Well, it is just so between the true Christian and Christ! The true Christian delights to read the Scriptures, because they tell them about their beloved Savior. It is no wearisome task for them to read them. They rarely need reminding about taking their Bible with them when they go on a journey. They cannot be happy without it. And why is all this? It is because the Scriptures testify of Him whom their soul loves, even Christ.
4. If we love a person, we like to please them.
We are glad to consult their tastes and opinions, to act upon their advice and do the things which they approve. We even deny ourselves to meet their wishes, abstain from things which we know they dislike and learn things to which we are not naturally inclined, because we think it will give them pleasure. Well, it is just so between the true Christian and Christ! The true Christian studies to please Him, by being holy both in body and spirit. Show them anything in their daily practice that Christ hates, and they will give it up. Show them anything that Christ delights in, and they will follow after it. They do not murmur at Christ’s requirements as being too strict and severe, as the children of the world do. To them Christ’s commandments are not grievous, and Christ’s burden is light. And why is all this? Simply because they love Him.
5. If we love a person, we like their friends.
We are favorably inclined to them, even before we know them. We are drawn to them by the common tie of common love to one and the same person. When we meet them we do not feel that we are altogether strangers. There is a bond of union between us. They love the person that we love, and that alone is an introduction. Well, it is just so between the true Christian and Christ! The true Christian regards all Christ’s friends as their friends, members of the same body, children of the same family, soldiers in the same army, travelers to the same home. When they meet them, they feel as if they had long known them. They are more at home with them in a few minutes, than they are with many worldly people after an acquaintance of several years. And what is the secret of all this? It is simply affection to the same Savior and love to the same Lord.
6. If we love a person, we are jealous about their name.
We do not like to hear them spoken against, without speaking up for them and defending them. We feel bound to maintain their interests and their reputation. We regard the person who treats them ill with almost as much disfavor as if they had ill–treated us. Well, it is just so between the true Christian and Christ! The true Christian regards with a godly jealousy all efforts to disparage their Master’s word, or name, or church, or day. They will confess Him before princes, if need be, and be sensitive of the least dishonor put upon Him. They will not hold their peace, and suffer their Master’s cause to be put to shame, without testifying against it. And why is all this? Simply because they love Him.
7. If we love a person, we like to talk to them.
We tell them all our thoughts, and pour out all our heart to them. We find no difficulty in discovering subjects of conversation. However silent and reserved we may be to others, we find it easy to talk to a much–loved friend. However often we may meet, we are never at a loss for matter to talk about. We have always much to say, much to ask about, much to describe, much to communicate. Well, it is just so between the true Christian and Christ! The true Christian finds no difficulty in speaking to their Savior. Every day they have something to tell Him, and they are not happy unless they tell it. They speak to Him in prayer every morning and night. They tell Him their wants and desires, their feelings and their fears. They ask counsel of Him in difficulty. They ask comfort of Him in trouble. They cannot help it. They must converse with their Savior continually, or they would faint by the way. And why is this? Simply because they love Him.
8. If we love a person, we like to be always with them.
Thinking and hearing and reading and occasionally talking are all well in their way. But when we really love people we want something more. We long to be always in their company. We wish to be continually in their society, and to hold communion with them without interruption or farewell. Well, it is just so between the true Christian and Christ! The heart of a true Christian longs for that blessed day when they will see their Master face to face. They long to be done with sinning and repenting and believing and to begin that endless life when they shall see as they have been seen, and sin no more. They have found it sweet to live by faith, and they feel it will be sweeter still to live by sight. They have found it pleasant to hear of Christ and talk of Christ and read of Christ. How much more pleasant will it be to see Christ with their own eyes, and never to leave them any more! “Better,” they feel, “is the sight of the eyes than the wandering of the desire” (Eccl. 6:9). And why is all this? Simply because they love Him.
~ J.C. Ryle
Holiness: Its Nature, Hindrances, Difficulties, and Roots, “Do You Love Me?”, [Moscow, ID: Charles Nolan Publishing, 2001], 294-297.