Let Your Love Be Genuine
Topic: Love Passage: Romans 12:9
Great to Good
Grace Community Church
Nov. 13, 2022
Let Your Love Be Genuine - Part One
9 Let love be genuine. Rom. 12:9
I need a young volunteer. Are you good at math? I have two envelopes. In one is a $5 bill and in the other is a $20 bill. Which is the bigger number? If I were to give you one, which would you rather have?
It’s interesting to me that Paul doesn’t say, let love be gigantic. He says, let love be genuine. He doesn’t emphasize the size of our love, he emphasizes the authenticity of our love. The word translated genuine in the ESV is derived from the Greek word meaning without hypocrisy. A hypocrite originally referred to someone playing a part on the stage, someone who pretended to be something they are not. Paul says, don’t play-act the part of a loving person; be a loving person. Let your love be genuine.
Let’s take a moment to put this verse back into its context. In view of God’s great mercy to us in Jesus Christ we are to offer ourselves as living sacrifices holy and pleasing to God. As we refuse to conform to the world but allow ourselves to be transformed by the renewing of our minds, we are able to test and approve God’s good and pleasing will.
This isn’t talking about God’s will about who we marry or what job we take and things like that. Paul is saying as our minds are renewed and our lives transformed we will be able to see God’s will, know God’s will, and want God’s will.
Paul then says, “for” and in verses 3-8 encourages us to serve God faithfully with the gifts He has given us. That makes sense! In the same way a craftsman builds a piece of furniture or a toolmaker makes a tool for a specific purpose, God crafted us with gifts to be used for His glory. That’s His will. As Eric Liddell said, when we run in His gift we can feel His pleasure.
With the words Let love be genuine in verse 9. Paul says it’s God’s will that we love. No surprise since Jesus in John 15:17 said “this is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” We can know God’s will is that we love. If there’s a fork in the road and one path is the path of love and other is an unloving path, we don’t need to pray about what God’s will is. God’s good will for us is love one another. Let love be genuine.
So let’s look at what Paul means when he talks about genuine love. And the first thing we need to do is connect it with the preceding verses because we can’t just manufacture genuine love by trying hard.
- Genuine love is Jesus’ love shining through us from the inside out
Paul says be transformed. As we behold Jesus we are transformed by his glory and we reflect his glory. In one sense we are like the moon – we don’t shine on our own, we reflect God’s glory as we behold Jesus. We aren’t the source of love; God is love, and we to reflect His love by being transformed by His love.
But the moon only reflects the sun’s light off its surface. Sunlight hits its surface and bounces off. Not so with us. God wants us to reflect His glory – and especially His love – from the inside out. God’s not interested in His glory bouncing off our surface. Transformation isn’t transformation if it’s only skin deep. Transformation is God’s work deep within us. Genuine love is Jesus’ love shining (reflecting) through us from the inside out!
As we sit with God’s word, or listen to a message, or spend time in prayer, or sing songs of worship, we should always seek to engage our hearts so that the Spirit can work on a deeper level in us. Transformation must go deeper than feeling “blessed” or getting emotional or seeing scripture in a way we never saw it before. Nothing wrong with any of those things if they are part of a process of God working deep within our hearts.
Phil. 2:13 says for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. God works in us to have the want to and the energy to do His good pleasure. It’s God working in us, apart from Christ’s work in us we can do nothing. So seek to behold Christ and let his glory work deeply in your heart so that his glory shines through you from the inside out.
But if we stopped here, it would seem like it was all up to God and it’s not. The verse leading up to Phil. 2:13 says, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling…It’s God working so you work it out. As you work, God works. As God works, you work. You work, God gives you the desire to do His will. As you work God gives you the energy to do His good pleasure.
- Genuine love is something we do (not just something we feel)
Everything Paul lays out going forward are commands that we are to do. Beginning with verse 9. Let love be genuine.
Don’t be fake! It’s better to admit we struggle with having little love than to pretend that we have a lot of love when we don’t. $5 worth of real love is more valuable than $20 worth of fake love. God can work with $5 of real, He can’t work with $20 of play-acting.
Genuine love isn’t something we put on and take off depending on our context.
A rather pompous-looking deacon was trying to impress on his Sunday school class the importance of living the Christian life and at one point asked his class, “why do people call me a Christian?” After an awkward silence, one boy raised his hand: “maybe because they don’t know you.”
How many people only look like Christians to people who don’t know them? Last Sunday after church Janice went to Walmart to pick up a grocery order. When the gal came out with our order Janice asked her, “how’s your day going?” She replied, it’s really busy. We’re getting all the people who come here after church now. Janice said, “Oh, I’m one of those after church people.” This girl said, “yeah, but you’re one of the nice ones.”
If it wasn’t so sad, it’d almost be funny to think of people smiling in church, learning about love and kindness, “have yourself a real blessed week brother Jimmy; love you sister Suzy.” And then go to Walmart and treat the staff unkindly. That’s not genuine love, that’s hypocrisy – playing a part on a stage.
Genuine love looks more real the more people get to know us. It’s not one thing at home and another thing in public. How many kids have been turned off the gospel because they saw their Christian dad act all loving and holy in church and then treat their mom badly at home? Or act like a great and engaged dad in public and then neglect their kids at home?
I’m not saying this to condemn anyone – we are all capable of doing hypocrisy in our own way. What I’m saying is let’s hold up. Rather than be deceived into thinking we’re great because everyone in church thinks we’re spiritual, or everyone at work loves us, let’s hold up. It’s not the people we barely brush shoulders with who are in the best position to gauge if our love is genuine, it’s the people we are closest with. And God’s will is so clear we can’t miss it: stop acting, get off the stage, and ask God to do His work in a deeper way in our everyday life and in our closest relationships. God doesn’t want to condemn us for our failure to love, He wants to put the want and the energy into our learning to love genuinely. Let’s welcome Him to work deeply in our hearts.
I’m not done talking about genuine love so hang in there with me.
Another thing to watch out for is agenda-love. Agenda-love is the opposite of genuine love. You know what agenda-love is? It’s when someone acts loving and like they care about you because there’s something they want from you. There are strings attached and those strings pull everything back to them. They have an agenda.
Agendas can be long term agendas and sometimes they aren’t revealed until something happens that frustrates the agenda. A friend that is your good friend until you don’t do something they wanted you to do, or you disappoint them in some way, or you fail and suddenly they don’t come around anymore.
When TV evangelist Jim Bakker had the #1 Christian broadcast every preacher wanted to know him and be on his show because it would provide them instant success and recognition. When Jim Bakker was imprisoned for tax fraud, only one preacher went to visit him in jail, Billy Graham. Who was a true friend and who were agenda-friends to Jim Bakker?
Let’s ask God to help us not love with an agenda. Love is the agenda. Jesus said don’t just invite people to dinner who can invite you back and raise your social status. Invite the poor and outcast who have nothing with which to pay you back.
Love without agenda means we love them when they’re able to give something back to us and we love them when they’re not.
This is the love of Christ. Jesus loved us to the end. He didn’t come for what he could get from us, he came for what he could give to us.
6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
9 Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! 10 For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!
Once again we stand in view of God’s mercy. We love because he first loved us. And because he loved us so freely we are free to love others, no strings attached. Let your love be genuine.
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