"Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality." Romans 12:9-13
Can we all say we love without hypocrisy? I know it can be difficult to love the unlovely. It can be difficult to step outside of our needs, wants and desires sometimes to show the person next to us love. But what does that love mean or look like?
The love we show another person can be something as simple as a smile or a hug. Or a sincere, "How are you today?" A genuine greeting to another human being is so sorely lacking in today's world of social media, speed and convenience. We don't even stop to truly listen to what may be going on in a coworker's life as we walk by in the hallway and say "Hey, how's it going?"
We are hearing all kinds of sensational stories about people "paying it forward" by buying lunch for the car behind them in the drive thru and other things that are making its way around Facebook and other social media sites. While these stories are great, what is the motive behind them? I recently read an article where whenever someone in the Starbucks drive thru pays for the order of the car behind them, then the barista asks if the driver that had their order paid would like to pay the order for the person behind them. I think that removes the love out and God-led annointing out of the equation and sensationalizes and even manipulates a situation.
"But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly."
We should not stand on the mountaintops and say how awesome and great we are because of all the good we do and all the "love we show" our fellow man. We cannot be as the pharisees, whom Jesus called a brood of vipers, and put on our religious holy hats for the world to see how religious we are. Our love should include taking care of those around us.
James 1:27 -
Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.
So, I ask you today. Have you visited the elderly man or woman down the street to make sure the cupboard has food in it? Have you asked him or her if they have heating in their home for the winter? Do they need a ride to a doctor's appointment? Have you shown them that Jesus loves them... that you love them?
Have you taken the son of the single mom next door out for ice cream or her daughter to a movie? Have you ensured the single mom has enough money for baseball signups or dance class tuition? What about the true orphans? Have you become a big brother or big sister and become a mentor to those without examples of a father's or mother's love? Or does your humanistic cynicism tell you it isn't your problem or your responsibility or ask what "they" will do with your money? Nothing truly belongs to you anyway. EVERYTHING belongs to the Lord.
We are ambassadors of the Kingdom of God to all that do not know Him and even to other Christians. In some cases, we are their opportunity to see Christ’s love in action. What are we going to show them? What will our example be? Paul told the Philippians in Phil 1:27:
Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.
“Let your conduct be worthy…” That is a big statement in just 5 little words. How do you conduct yourself? Are you angry all the time but say "Bless you brother" on Sunday morning? Do you play act at being a servant of Christ without actually committing to the lifestyle? Yes, being a follower of Christ is a lifestyle that should permeate every single aspect of our daily lives. We should ooze the love of Christ, or we are absolutely nothing.
1 Corinthians 13:1-2
Though I speak with the tongues of men and angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. An though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all the mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
What does these first 2 verses of "The Love Chapter" tell us? If we go through our daily lives and do not show the love of Christ in our hearts, then our words are nothing but loud noises...empty and meaningless. It doesn't matter what gifts of the spirit we have been given or how much faith and knowledge we have. Without LOVE, we are NOTHING. Jesus said,
"By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."
Without love, we cannot be recognized as disciples of Christ. Without showing the grace and mercy that comes from His love, we cannot be recognized as disciples of Christ. Without showing that love to those around us....we cannot be recognized as belonging to the One True King.
So..what will you do today to be recognized as a follower of Christ?