Let Your Love be Genuine

Romans 12:9-10 ESV

“Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.”

God is love. And love comes from God. So, love is holy, righteous, godly, morally pure, thoughtful, kind, considerate, honorable, trustworthy, patient, and honest (no lies), etc. And to love with this kind of love is to also prefer what God prefers which is all of the above mentioned, plus obedience to our Lord and the forsaking of our sins to follow Jesus with our lives.

I wrote two days ago a devotion titled, “Pour Out Your Heart Before Him.” I believe I was led of the Lord to write this. The situation had to do with a meme on social media which I had read which was mocking and making a joke out of a man treating his motorcycle with greater love, affection, devotion, and honor than he was his wife, but not just greater, but perhaps in place of treating his wife with such love, affection, honor, and value.

I believed the Lord led me in responding to this meme by saying, “Wow! That’s really sad. Do you know what it is like to be treated like that? It’s not funny, not funny at all. The thought of it brings tears to my eyes. Many women are being treated like this and it is horrible. I feel for them.”

I have had close to 200 likes so far on this comment, mostly from women, and I have had quite a few responses from men, mostly in the negative, some of them mocking and even scolding me. One suggested that I would not be offended if it was the other way around. One suggested that it was the wife’s fault if her husband mistreated her. Some just wanted me to accept it as a joke and to get over it, basically. One told me I needed to lighten up. And this last one suggested that the neglected wife just leave.

The Sad Reality

Now, the sad reality of all of this is that the church at large in America is taking a similar approach to such situations as this. Rather than exhorting, encouraging, or counseling people who are married to love their spouses, and for men to love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, they are offering humanistic solutions or they are doing nothing at all and just ignoring the situations. And many marriages are falling apart for lack of church leadership teaching their people to love one another.

Now, some of them may be teaching love, but often it is not biblical love at all, but it is this humanistic feel good “love” which doesn’t want to offend anyone with the truth and so they do not confront sin in sinful human beings, and they do not call their people to repentance and to obedience to Christ and to his word, but they coddle them in their sins, and they teach them a gospel which requires no death to sin nor living to righteousness.

So they are not teaching genuine love. And they are definitely not teaching their people to abhor evil, to hold fast to what is good, and to honor one another (other believers in Jesus and their spouses). For they don’t want to offend anyone, even those who are doing evil to others and who are deliberately and habitually sinning against others to do them harm. They are not holding them accountable for their sins and to make the right changes.

And so these “shepherds” of the people of God are abandoning the sheep because they are not teaching the truths of the Word of God and of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and they are not insisting that followers of Jesus forsake their sins to follow Jesus in obedience. And so they are not helping to heal broken marriages, but they are leaving them to flounder with no godly leadership to intervene to help heal these situations in distress.

And this is because they are not practicing nor teaching nor insisting on genuine biblical love, but they are teaching a feel good love and gospel which appeals to human flesh and which does not put flesh to death. And if the church is not teaching and practicing genuine love which abhors evil and which holds fast to what is good, and that prefers what God prefers, then is it any wonder that so many are mocking and joking about situations which should bring them to tears, instead? We are definitely in the last days.

Just Leave

So, this one man’s counsel was for the neglected and offended (hurt) spouse to just leave if she didn’t like how she was being treated by her husband. And this was counsel to all people in such situations if they were not happy with how they were being treated, whether male or female. And this was a public comment not in a Christian forum, so I don’t know if the man was a professing Christian or not. But still this attitude is being reflected in the attitudes of many who claim faith in Jesus Christ, too. So, the Lord led me to respond to this man with this:

“When we get married to someone, at least it used to be that we took vows of marital fidelity, of a commitment to our spouse to love and to cherish him or her in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, for richer for poorer, for better for worse, and forsaking all others, keeping ourselves only to him or her, for so long as we both shall live.

“Some of us still take those vows seriously and we are committed to our marriages in this way. And we believe our spouses should still hold to their vows, as well, especially if they say that is their desire, and especially if this is a Christian marriage with two people committed to Christ, too (or professing to be). But it doesn’t always work out that way, does it?

“But considering that this is the understanding between two people who vowed to love and to cherish each other, if one partner is not fulfilling his (or her) vows, and if he (or she) is not loving and cherishing his (or her) spouse as one ought, but is doing the opposite of that, then that is a sad situation which is not to be mocked and made fun of as though it is a laughing matter.

“And the solution to be suggested should not be for the neglected spouse to just leave if she (or he) doesn’t like how she (or he) is being treated. It should be to encourage the spouse, who is failing to love his (or her) spouse as one ought, to be the person he or she is supposed to be, and that he or she vowed to be, and to work at the marriage and to heal those areas that are broken and to restore the marriage back to what it should be.”

Loving as We Ought

And this should be the attitude of the church leadership to help broken marriages to heal by teaching their people to love one another with genuine love which prefers what God prefers and which abhors evil and which clings to the good. But this isn’t just about marriages. This is about all relationships between Christians and other Christians and between Christians and non-Christians, too. We need to love one another like Jesus loves us.

Yes, Jesus forgives sins but he does not tolerate habitual and deliberate sin in the lives of those professing his name. He does not tolerate us mistreating one another as a matter of practice. This is evident in the teachings of Christ and those of his New Testament apostles. For forgiveness is not free license to keep on in deliberate and habitual sin in direct defiance to God and to his commands and in direct opposition to what it means to love one another.

Jesus and his NT apostles taught that we must die with Christ to sin and live to God and to his righteousness and that sin should no longer be our practice but obedience to God and righteousness are to be our practice. And they taught that if we refuse to obey the Lord and to forsake our sins, and if we do not love others with genuine love which comes from God but we treat them with hate, instead, that we will not inherit eternal life with God. So please take this to heart, and please love others as you ought.

[Lu 9:23-26; Rom 1:18-32; Rom 2:6-8; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-14; 1 Co 6:9-10; 2 Co 5:10; Gal 5:16-21; Gal 6:7-8; Eph 4:17-24; Eph 5:3-6; Col 1:21-23; Col 3:5-11; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Heb 10:26-31; 1 Pet 1:17-21; Jn 15:1-11; Matt 7:21-23; Rev 21:8,27; Rev 22:14-15]

Oh, to Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer

Lyrics by Thomas O. Chisholm, 1897
Music by W. J. Kirkpatrick, 1897

Oh, to be like Thee! blessèd Redeemer,
This is my constant longing and prayer;
Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,
Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.

Oh, to be like Thee! full of compassion,
Loving, forgiving, tender and kind,
Helping the helpless, cheering the fainting,
Seeking the wandering sinner to find.

O to be like Thee! lowly in spirit,
Holy and harmless, patient and brave;
Meekly enduring cruel reproaches,
Willing to suffer others to save.

O to be like Thee! while I am pleading,
Pour out Thy Spirit, fill with Thy love;
Make me a temple meet for Thy dwelling,
Fit me for life and Heaven above.

Oh, to be like Thee! Oh, to be like Thee,
Blessèd Redeemer, pure as Thou art;
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.

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