Romans 12:9 (NIV) Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.
Have you ever heard the phrase “I love them but I don’t like them” or maybe “love the sinner but hate the sin.” “But” represents a contradiction. Our love for the Lord must be sincere. We must hate what is evil. Cling to what is good. It is a dissecting of sorts that begins in our own heart. I am challenged today to take the fruit of my heart hopefully born of His Spirit called “love” and cut it open to see if its contents are good and fit for consumption. Love is the driving force of God in His Pursuit of us. It is the very thing that held Jesus on the Cross until He gave His Very Last Breath. It is the force that rolled the stone away to reveal a risen Savior and forever Lord. Christ lives in me. His Spirit at work feeding my soul and nourishing my spirit to create a new person from the depraved wretch that I am. His Word is alive. It cuts through every lie and insignificant detail to reveal the hidden truth and potential hidden in layers of sin and darkness.
I have been “saved” since I was eleven years old. Through my teenage years into adulthood, I toyed with Christianity before finally turning over a messed up existence for a new way of life in my early thirties. Complete surrender is the only way to begin the full transformation process. It is a lengthy battle of the heart and mind. Jesus at the center of it all means there is a whole lot of “me” to get out of the way. It seems so simple when we come to Jesus. Why not? We have nothing to give but our faults and failures in exchange for a new life and forever in His Kingdom. Yet the striving and settlement of the terms of this covenant seem to continually cut away at my heart and mind as I discover it is an act of endurance that keeps us steadfast in Christ. It is not a footrace to the finish but a good fight for our faith. Could it be so simple and yet we make it complex? Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil. Cling to what is good.
I have been married for almost twenty years. I chose to give my heart to a man. He is just like me – imperfect and yet perfect for me. I love him. I am committed to loving him for the rest of my natural life. It is from this commitment or covenant that sincere love is born. It is not fancy or pretty. Sometimes it can be very raw and broken yet in all the beauty and ugliness mixed together – God has made good of every detail of our life. It just gets better and better all the time. In our marriage to Christ, it can be very much the same. Over time, I may take Him for granted. Not show Him true affection or affirm Him. There are even days that I don’t trust Jesus. Oh, I say that I do but my actions speak louder than words. Our marriage to Christ is a choice to love. In the good times and bad, when things are wonderful or wretched, and even when love is cold and insincere – this is a relationship to be worked through just like anyone else. It is my commitment to Christ that is the relationship worth having because from it comes remarkable relationships with ordinary people.
The word sincere means free of deceit, hypocrisy or falseness. It is earnest, authentic, genuine and real. It is pure, unadulterated and unmixed. This is the kind of love that the Spirit of God produces in us. It is the brand of love that is designated to bind God’s Kingdom together. Once tainted always tainted unless carried through His Blood. If we do not repent from our lack of love and return to our first love, it is impossible to love others the same way we love Jesus. He has to transform our perception and expectation of love and purify us again. Our passion for the Lord will burn away the impurities of human love and cut through the most callous heart to circumcise it consecrating it to the Lord again.
Revelation 2:2-5 (NIV) I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first.
This warning from Jesus is not for the lost or those who are seeking. This message is to the modern day Christian and believers who are giving their very life to the work of the Lord. It is for preachers, teachers, elders, and every other servant in the House of God serving the Body of Christ. Are you going through the motions today? Doing what has become a habit? Has service become the social circle you move in? It’s crazy that think that doing good things can sometimes take the place of doing God’s Thing for you. It happens. Church is made up of imperfect people. It has a hierarchy all its own. Carefully constructed doctrine meant for godly order becomes the rules and regulations of judgment and a kangaroo court of Pharisees born from it. I wonder if God is saying, “Stop…just stop for a minute.” The merry-go-round that hints at revival yet passes by it never stopping is not because you aren’t “doing” all the right things but you have forgotten for Who you are doing it? Have you forgotten to love Jesus today? Every attitude, action and reaction should be born of our true love for Him.
A couple things come to mind in closing today. First, you cannot fake agape love. It is born of something supernatural by giving our heart, mind, body, spirit and soul to Jesus Christ. When I had each one of my children, there was an instant connection and overpowering love the moment that they were born. At each birth, I instantly and completely loved them. They are my children. This is exactly how Christ loves us. The moment of creation was powerful in that His Love completely surrounded us in that moment and it never stopped but has perpetuated through life. When our daughter had our grandson, I was by her side to witness his arrival. I loved him with the same ferocity and completeness that I did his mother when she arrived. The heart of Jesus explodes the moment a new Christian is born and all Heaven celebrates. Our new life and the continual rebirths of others should reciprocate love that connects the Kingdom similar to the kind of love when a new baby arrives. After all – we are all members of the same body.
Second thought before I go, after all these years of marriage I have learned playing the part of wife, life partner, best friend and soul mate is not enough. I can do all the right things. I can serve my husband completely. I can “do” everything that is expected of me and he can still feel unloved and unwanted. There are times when he doesn’t want me to do anything but sit with him, talk to him and be with him. Life is busy. Humans are subject to emotions and feeling. We all have bad days. If I feel like I am not connecting with my husband, I must determine what is lacking. Generally, it is that I have become consumed in the tasks of marriage and not given time or attention to my true love. Jesus is no different. He doesn’t need us to do His Work – He has legions of angels who tend to be way more obedient then humans. He wants us. He desires us. Yes, there is work for the Kingdom that is our purpose and destiny in life. Yes, we are to work together and build the Kingdom and connect the Body of Christ. Yes, yes, yes to every excuse you can think of as to why you haven’t been at His Feet listening, seeking and finding His Face. All He wants and has ever wanted is you. He loves you wholeheartedly and completely just as you were the day you came to Him asking for salvation and surrendering your life. He loves that you. The same you that is searching for Him today will be met with the same profound grace and perfect love that you found back then.
Sincere love. God desires our sincere love. Jesus deserves our sincere love. Allow His Spirit to renew love in you today. Let His Love be made more perfect as you seek to know Him more. I cannot love another from a well that is dry and without loving the One who first loved me – I have nothing to offer the dry and thirsty world.
I Timothy 1:5 (NIV) The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.