“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. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’ To the contrary, ‘if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:9-21
“Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother... So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding… May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Romans 14:13,19; 15:5-6
Let it. Let it. Let love be genuine. That’s what love is: genuine, strong, self-giving, generous. Love welcomes, beckons out of the cold, says come sit awhile. Love puts on no airs, breathes and sings in natural voice. Love embraces, sees inside and values each person, feels and applies compassion. Let love be what it is. Stop getting in the way. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)
But when I raise my ugly haughty head, it muddies love’s very nature with my sin nature, and genuine becomes stilted, true becomes distorted, lavish becomes limited. Love tainted with selfishness says, ‘what’s in it for me?’
We must abhor all that is evil and pollutes genuine love. Stop keeping an account of offenses, preferring self, allowing laxness to creep into any part of love’s vitality. Are we even aware how self pokes into our desires, disorders emotions, and ruins genuine caring and compassion? How our ideas preempt listening, our plans push away another’s time-consuming sorrow or need? How our sense of rights, and smack of superiority in being right, dismiss the ‘inferior’ and diminish others’ sacredly-held beliefs?
For love to be genuine, it must first have its way in us. We cannot love apart from knowing and accepting Christ’s love for us, His selfless, all-encompassing, unconditional love spilled out and washing us in His heart’s red blood. Once grounded in His love, we begin to grasp the infinite measure of it, and learn by daily practice to work it out with open hands and warm heart toward others. (Ephesians 3:17-19; 1 John 4:19)
Lord, may I fulfill Your law by loving with purity, generosity, and grace. Remind me daily I have died to sin and self, and live to You, for the love and upbuilding of Your people. (Romans 6:4,6-8; 13:8-11,14; 14:7-8; 15:1-2; Galatians 2:20)