Focus requires in-depth analysis. We remove everything around to focus in on the central message. For the next several weeks, I want to focus in on the verses found in the twelfth chapter of Romans, beginning in verse nine. This passage is so rich and gives detailed instructions on living the transformed life.
To live this life, requires the initial act of transformation that comes through faith in Christ Jesus. If you don’t have that, these verses will mean nothing, so stop now and ask Jesus to be your Lord and Savior. If you know him, read on!
Paul starts this chapter with a reminder that we are not to conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed in our thinking. When we live this way, it will affect our actions, and they will be greatly different from those of the world around us.
Verse 9 says: Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.
What’s the opposite of sincerity? Insincerity or hypocrisy. I think most of us know what hypocritical love looks like. It’s the love that is dripping with syrupy language. We know when someone is trying to “butter us up,” as we say in the South.
Hypocritical love is easy to spot, because it usually wants something in return. “I’ll be happy to help, if you do this for me.” It’s conditional and not easily given.
If that’s insincere love, then sincere love is radically different. It’s…
- doesn’t envy or boast
- not proud, rude or self-seeking
- not easily angered and keeps no record of wrong
- not the kind to delight in evil, but rejoices in the truth
- the kind of love that always protects, trusts, hopes, perseveres and never fails.*
How do you rate on the sincerity level with the love you show? The more intimate our relationship with Christ, the more sincere our love toward others.
That level of love naturally leads us to distance ourselves from evil, because it leaves a bad taste in our mouth, hurts our heart, burdens our soul. Instead, we cling to all that is good and lovely. As Paul told the church in Philippi:
whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.*
Are you struggling with the love you show? This verse gives us the answer by flipping the sentences around. If you cling to what is good and push evil away, then your love will be purified and become that which gives honor to God.
How will you put sincere love into practice this week? Focus first on Christ, whose love led him to the cross on our behalf, and then in doing good, you’ll show that sincere love to others to his glory.
Grace and Peace
*1 Corinthians 13:4-7.
*Philippians 4:8 (NIV)