Editor’s Note: Today’s devotional is excerpted from A Jane Austen Devotional, beginning with this selection from Mansfield Park. Enjoy!
Once, and once only, in the course of many years, had [Fanny] the happiness of being with [her brother] William. Of the rest she saw nothing: nobody seemed to think of her ever going amongst them again, even for a visit, nobody at home seemed to want her; but William determining, soon after her removal, to be a sailor, was invited to spend a week with his sister in Northamptonshire before he went to sea. Their eager affection in meeting, their exquisite delight in being together, their hours of happy mirth, and moments of serious conference, may be imagined; as well as the sanguine views and spirits of the boy even to the last, and the misery of the girl when he left her.
Luckily the visit happened in the Christmas holidays, when she could directly look for comfort to her cousin Edmund; and he told her such charming things of what William was to do, and be hereafter, in consequence of his profession, as made her gradually admit that the separation might have some use.
Edmund’s friendship never failed her: his leaving Eton for Oxford made no change in his kind dispositions, and only afforded more frequent opportunities of proving them. Without any display of doing more than the rest, or any fear of doing too much, he was always true to her interests, and considerate of her feelings, trying to make her good qualities understood, and to conquer the diffidence which prevented their being more apparent; giving her advice, consolation, and encouragement.
~ Mansfield Park
In this scene, we get a glimpse of the purest, deepest love: from Fanny’s devoted brother William, now gone to sea; and from her kind cousin Edmund, whose friendship has “never failed her.” Fanny is infinitely and eternally grateful for the love she receives, and she loves these two men faithfully in return.
This picture of true love, given and received, is best examined in 1 Corinthians 13, the Bible’s famous “love chapter.” Within the first few verses, Paul makes very clear that Christianity without love is nothing:
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. — 1 Corinthians 13:1-3
What Paul means is that no matter how good our performance or appearance or even our faith, lack of love deflates it entirely.
So often, love is misunderstood and distorted by an unbelieving world. We accept shallow substitutions and celebrate them as though they were real or lasting. What we fail to grasp is that Christian love is a choice first demonstrated toward us by God, and that we get to practice it ourselves as we follow Him and little by little become like Him… as we become like Love.
What a beautiful picture of love we have in God!
Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. — 1 John 4:8 NIV
Excerpted with permission from A Jane Austen Devotional by Steffany Woolsey, copyright Thomas Nelson.
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Jesus Himself is the example of love for us believers! The gift of His presence, the present of His birth, death, resurrection, and our salvation is the story of love! Come share your thoughts with us on our blog. We want to hear from you! ~ Devotionals Daily