“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. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” Romans 12:9-18
What does genuine love look like? It looks like Jesus, who laid down His life for His friends. And when we lay down our lives, we relinquish our masks, so love can be genuine, not manipulative or affected or forced for our own ends. We give up what is evil and self-serving, and lavish affection, honor, patience, and generosity on those God gives us to love. We prefer them over ourselves, choose their preferences over our own, their good and peace and needs instead of ours. We compassionately care, we earnestly pray. We energetically, zealously, passionately, sacrificially exhibit and extend benevolence to individuals God has placed in our lives. (John 15:13)￼
“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
Loving this way takes time. It takes time to contemplate Jesus and how He loves, and seeking to emulate Him. It takes setting aside my natural proclivities to do what I want when I want. It requires arranging for segments of my schedule to meet with and listen to others, and more time to pray in earnest for them and their growth and needs. It takes giving of myself for the good of another.
We cannot understand or have the capacity to love without Jesus. We cannot love others without touching the cross and allowing it to touch deep down into us in a meaningful way. He who spread His arms wide on the cross, loving us ‘this much,’ is the One who frees us and fills us to love others as He has loved us. “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love…Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another… We love because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:7-8,11,19) Would we seek His filling and be willing to pour ourselves out?
My Savior, may I love genuinely and lavishly in the power of the love You have shown me. May those I love know they are being loved by You.