Love Without Hypocrisy
Romans 12:9 NASB
Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good.
This word “love” means “benevolence, goodwill, kindness, and compassion,” but it also means “to prefer,” specifically to prefer what God prefers, which is purity, morality, truth, righteousness, holiness, godliness and faithfulness, etc. To love like this is to love like God loves. Love does no harm to its neighbor. Love does what is helpful and beneficial to others.
So, if we “love” others hypocritically, it means we just pretend to love them when we really don’t, or it means to say we love them, but then to do the opposite of love towards them. So, we don’t really love them, we just pretend that we do or we just say that we do, but our actions speak louder than our words, for our actions speak hate rather than love if we act in opposition to love towards others, especially while we profess to love them.
This is not about our feelings, though. We can love others whom we don’t feel warm fuzzy feelings towards. And, that is because love is action, not feelings. And, that is why we can even love our enemies – those who mistreat us and who do all manner of evil against us. We can be kind and compassionate towards even our enemies, and do for them what is for their good (what is beneficial for them), hating the evil, but clinging to the good.
Romans 12:10-13 NASB
Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality.
As followers of Jesus Christ, we are to love all people with this God-like love, but we are to especially be devoted to loving one another, caring for one another’s needs, showing one another tenderness, compassion, care, etc. We are to consider one another as family, and to honor one another, i.e. to show one another respect, kindness, and regard, i.e. to value one another.
And, this is why it is so important that we truly understand what it means to love with God-like love. So many people today have this word “love” all backwards, even within the church. They think that we should only say what makes people feel good, even if what we tell them are lies. Lies are never kind, though, no matter how much we dress them up to make them look good. It is not love if we lie to people to make them feel good so that they will, in return, like us. That is pure selfishness.
If we truly love one another with this God-like love, we will love them as God loves us. He doesn’t lie to us or pretend to love us when he doesn’t. He doesn’t say only what makes us feel good about ourselves. He tells us the truth. He says what we NEED to hear, not necessarily what we WANT to hear. He does for us what is beneficial for us, what will lead us to holiness, not that which will leave us still wandering in our sins.
So, if we truly love one another, we are going to be diligent in doing and saying what we know is going to help one another know Christ in his fullness, walk in his love and holiness, grow in our walks of faith, and live in purity, love, holiness and godliness. We are not going to applaud what we know is the opposite of love, truth, faithfulness, holiness and godliness.
Bless Your Persecutors
Romans 12:14-16 NASB
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation. Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.
If we curse someone, we speak or hope that harm or evil would come to him. We wish him ill will. We don’t care if he lives or dies. But, when we bless someone, we are thinking about what is for this person’s good, for what is in his best interest, what is beneficial for him. We consider what he really needs (not wants), and we pray to that end.
Blessing someone is not telling him lies to make him feel good. Blessing has to do with saying what is for his good, what is truly helpful for him, and what will do good to him.
In all of this, in all that we do or speak or act towards others, it must all be with God-like love, which does no harm to others, and which does only what is beneficial, and that which prefers what God prefers. So, to rejoice with those who rejoice would never mean to rejoice with them over that which God would not approve or over that which we know is for their harm, or for the harm of another. So, we will never applaud that which is sinful.
In like manner, to be of the same mind with one another would never be to be like-minded over anything sinful or contrary to God and to his Word. We are like-minded with one another when we are first of all of one mind and heart with Jesus Christ. So, be discerning here, for many, even within the church, are pushing a “unity” and “one mind” with human thinking and reasoning, but they are disguising it as biblical unity, and are pressuring many Christians into conformity, but it is not with Christ.
The same is true with regard to living at peace with all people. If living at peace with other humans means we are not at peace with God and with His Word, then God and His Word must trump. We must remember here that Jesus said that he didn’t come to bring peace, but a sword (Matt. 10:34-42). He doesn’t give peace as the world does (Jn. 14:27).
His peace has to do with peace with God through submission to the will of God and surrender to his Lordship over our lives. And, when we live at peace with God we will often be at enmity with other humans, even within the church, because many of them are like-minded with the world, not with God. So, if we can live at peace with other humans without compromising our faith in Jesus Christ or the truths of God’s Holy Word, then live at peace.
If Your Enemy
Romans 12:17-21 NASB
Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. “But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Jesus Christ had enemies, and he lived a perfect life. If we are following him, in doing what he says, and in speaking his truths, we, too, will have enemies, even within the church. Remember here that Jesus’ greatest persecutors were not the Romans. They were the Jews – his own people, his family, the people of his own town, and of his own faith.
So, when we truly follow Jesus Christ with our lives, his enemies will be our enemies. And, they will do what is harmful to us, because their goal, which is Satan’s goal, is to bring us down so that we no longer serve the Lord but so that we serve ourselves, instead. So, don’t be surprised if your greatest persecution comes from within the church, not from without.
But, our response to persecution and to our persecutors is to trust God with our lives, to believe he is completely sovereign over every aspect of our lives, and to believe that he has power over every authority on this earth. It is also to love our enemies, to pray for them, to bless them, and to do good to them. Remember, this means to do what is for their good, as God defines good, not to tell them lies to make them feel good about themselves in their sin.
And, it is never to pay them back evil for evil, but only with good. It is God’s to take revenge or to pay back for evil with his wrath, not ours.
So, instead of seeking revenge, we are to help meet the legitimate needs of our enemies. Again, this has to do with doing and saying what is ultimately for their good, in the eyes of God, always preferring holiness, righteousness, truth and purity, etc. In this way, we will not be overcome with evil, but we will overcome evil with good. For, we will be doing the will of God, and we will be ministering his love and grace to others, for their benefit, that they, too, may come to know him in his fullness, and be likeminded with Him.
It Is Well with My Soul
H. G. Spafford / P. P. Bliss
When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say,
It is well; it is well with my soul.
Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed his own blood for my soul.
My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!
And, Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.
It is well with my soul,
It is well; it is well with my soul.
Thursday, May 24, 2018, 4:00 a.m. – Thank you, Jesus, for these words of instruction to us on holy living, on loving others, and on doing for others what is ultimately for their good, as God defines good.