Now, why would Apostle Paul write these words about not pretending to love others? Could it be that just like today we have folks who act one way and live another? Surely not! It’s a modern thing!
Except it’s not. People are people and have been since the beginning. Look at the deceit of Abram, Jacob, Laban, and David. Pretending to care about others, while acting completely contrary to that.
Paul got real with the believers in Rome by telling them to stop pretending and really love one another. God knows the heart. Our displays of “love” mean nothing to Him unless they are backed with a heart that actually loves.
Paul goes on to tell ways to do this, and the first is to hate what is wrong. WHAT???
Today’s culture tells us we who follow Jesus can’t hate, it’s not Christian. First note: the culture we live in does not get to dictate how we live. That’s God’s place. If we let someone or something else determine that, we’ve replaced YHWH God with another god.
To confront the wrong in another believer’s life is the most loving thing we can do. It is also the most painful, especially when everyone else is condoning and supporting that wrong. We must hate the things God hates and love that which God loves. Always. When we soak ourselves in the full scripture, we align ourselves with God. Seeing wrong becomes easier as we have the Holy Spirit for discernment and scripture as guide. Learning how to lovingly confront that wrong in someone we have genuine affection for isn’t easy but we can, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, do just that.
Next, we’re to hold tightly to what is good. Scripture tells us the only good one is God. So, we are to hold to Him tightly. Stay plugged in to the Vine. Trust Him, lean into Him, always choose Him over everything else.
Beyond that, we’re to love each other with genuine affection. Authentic, sincere affection. Real, day-to-day, honest caring for one another in tangible and intangible ways, using every opportunity to honor one another. Not bragging. Not vainly complimenting every move. Honest and real honor.
To honor one another honestly, we have to be paying attention to one another, looking for the honorable in one another. When we see the honorable, we commend it and we strive to join that level of integrity, too. There’s a lot to this Christian love!
But wait! There’s more!
Paul admonished us to never be lazy, but instead to serve the Lord with enthusiasm. What’s that mean?
The word “enthusiasm” comes from the Greek word “entheos” which means the God within. And the happiest, most interesting people are those who have found the secret of maintaining their enthusiasm, that God within.Earl Nightingale
We can get really wrapped up in serving the Lord, but do so without enthusiasm, without Him at the core. We must become radical about spending time with Him and aligning with Him before we take off serving Him. This is when His love will flow freely through us.
We’re not done yet! Paul goes on to tell believers to rejoice in their confident hope. Saying that to folks who lived under the constant threat of torture and death could seem ridiculous, but Paul knew the God who had saved him, and rejoiced in his confident hope of Jesus in spite of circumstances. He knew that encouraging the believers would help them keep their focus where it should be.
Be patient in trouble. Keep on praying. When other believers are in need, help. Be eager to practice hospitality. All of these are instructions we can live by, each one uplifting to us and others. When we believe these and practice them, we build God’s kingdom and our faith grows and matures.
Time to get started?
Coffee, Bible, Journal.