Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.
Have you ever met a loving, caring, and morally decent person who later turned out to be a fraud?
In our focus text, the Apostle Paul calls attention to three important aspects of Christian behavior, the first of which has to do with how we are to love. “Love must be sincere.” Don’t just go through the motions. Don’t pretend to be something you’re not. For you and me, love must be genuine.
There’s an old expression that’s often used in business. “Fake it ‘til you make it.” Well, in the matter of love, that concept has no merit. In fact, you can’t fake a right relationship with Christ. You’re either the real deal or you’re not. You might fool some of the people some of the time, but you can’t fool the Lord.
The real Christian hates evil and clings to good. The pretender lives as he wants, sets his own moral compass, clings to what suits his purposes, while claiming to be what he is not.
The genuine Christian sins, but not habitually. (1 John 5:18) The pretender sins with little or no remorse and wants the Christian label without responsibility.
True enough, we aren’t to judge. (Matthew 7:1) However, Jesus also said of false prophets, “… by their fruit you will recognize them.” (Mt 7:20) We’re not to cast judgement on others but we do have to make judgements about those who claim to be Christians or leaders within the Christian church. False doctrine leads to false belief and misaligned faith.
Again, we’re not to judge, but we must carefully scrutinize those we hang with and those we follow. Judgement of the pretenders is up to Christ.
21“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ Matthew 7:21-23
Amazing isn’t it? Pretenders can fake spirituality and perform in ways that appear to represent God.
Now, I’m not suggesting that you should suddenly start scrutinizing every Christian for warning signs of fraudulent behavior. All of us do and say things that can call into question our right relationship to Christ. Only God knows the reality of one’s heart. The most important thing for you and me in this regard is to make certain we’re the real deal. The response we should long for is, “Well done, good and faithful servant… Come and share your master’s happiness!” (Matthew 25:23)
There is something I do to my wife that is insincere and I’m working on changing it. To be fair, most men do it, but that doesn’t make it right. When she talks, I pretend to be listening. Guys, if you think we are fooling our wives, we’re not. They know our feeble attempts at conversation are insincere. They deserve better.
A more serious problem is when that insincerity carries over into our worship, prayer life, bible study, behavior, and faith.
God honors faith that is genuine and sincere. “… without faith it is impossible to please God…” (Hebrews 11:6) “… anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”
Do you believe that? Do you believe intellectually and from the heart He exists? Do you believe He rewards those who earnestly seek Him?
Notice the operative word “earnestly.” Our faith must not only involve intellectual ascent but earnest pursuit of His divine involvement in our lives. Faith is not passive but active resulting in changed behavior and good works. “… faith without deeds is dead.” (James 2:26)
So when Paul instructs, “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good…” (Ro 12:9), he is telling us to keep it real. You can’t fake your way into heaven. God honors real faith, saving faith; living, breathing, active, sincere, earnest, working faith that permeates our being and affects the way we live.
Reprinted from The Forever Notebook, Book 3 (July – September)