Is your love...genuine? (Part 1)

What is "genuine Christian love"? Let's see how God defines it.

"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."
~Romans 12:9-13 (ESV)

Jesus said that it is by our love for one another that the world will know that we are His disciples (Jn 13:34-35). The Lord did not say, it is by our theology, doctrine, knowledge, memorization of Scripture, our "service" or ideas of what holy living is, that will be the evidence to the world that we are, in fact, His disciples, He said, it is by our love for one another...just as He has loved us.

Let's break down each verse and examine our own hearts in the light of God's holy word so that we might quicken our spirits to the leading and teaching of the Holy Spirit.

Verse 9: Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Jesus defines genuine love to be His love—agape love. Love that neither seeks nor even considers self, but only seeks and considers God and His will for everyone. Humility and sacrificial living are consistently evident in genuine love. And in this pure love from, and of God, a Christian would supernaturally hate all that is evil (as God defines evil) and hold tightly to all that is good, e.g., hate a lying tongue, hate flattery, hate the murdering of the innocent (as in abortion), hate gossip, hate any kind of dissension (especially within the Family of God); love the truth even when it hurts, love those who speak  God's truth to you, love discipline, love justice and mercy (not to seek it for yourselves, but to give to others)...essentially, love all that God says He loves and hate all that God says He hates. And you can only discover this by daily being in His word and praying that He will daily manifest the life of Christ in your life (Gal 2:20; Heb 5:14).

Verse 10: Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. One of the best exegesis of this verse, is the one I heard from Pastor and Teacher, John MacArthur. Here's an excerpt from his sermon series (in 1984) entitled, "Brick by Brick":

"it's marvelous that he uses it here because he says in the Christian family we ought to have...the warm affection of love. So we ought to be marked by a natural love that we share with all believers, and I think you've experienced that. I know I have many, many times. I can go into an environment where I do not know anyone and if they love the Lord Jesus Christ, it doesn't take very long for us to have a very unique sense of love. There is a common bond that stretches beyond culture and time and place and events and circumstances and even though we have no history and no knowledge of commonness in terms of lifestyle or likes or dislikes, there is an immediate sense of affection with one who belongs to the family of God. Have you felt that? Sure you have. And that is to be an affectionate demonstrative kind of love. We are to have love for those within the family. And again I say, it is not a love built on attraction, it is a love that is given to anyone who belongs to the same Savior, the same Lord, the same Father. 

It is not just a theological love, it is an affection, a tender, kind, caring, concerned affection. The pure love of those who belong to Jesus Christ, it's what John talks about in 1 John 5 in that very lovely statement that he makes, 'Whosoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God and every one that loves him that begot loves him also that is begotten of Him.' A marvelous statement.

If you love God, you love those who belong to Him. And there is a warm affection for brothers and sisters in Christ. And that's why in Ephesians Paul says, 'Be ye tender hearted, forgiving one another even as God for Christ's sake has forgiven you.' We are to be identified as those who love."

~Brick by Brick (Part 2) by Pastor John MacAruthur
Full article originally appeared here at Grace to You

The second part of verse 10 is that we are commanded to compete with one another...but in what? In showing off our talents, knowledge or anything we deem valuable? By all means "No". We are commanded by God to outdo one another in showing honor to others, rather seeking to be honored.

What does that look like in a real-life? Well, it might look something like this: you just got a piece of your work highlighted in a public medium, where your name is mentioned and character honored. Naturally you are excited, and supernaturally, you are humbled. So first, you give thanks to God for allowing the gifts He's given you, to be used to edify and encourage others, then you pray and seek to bring honor to someone else, rather than announce to everyone you know and don't know, that this great honor has been given to you. It's a test. Will you pass it (Prov 27:2)?

There's so much good stuff in this passage to really sink your teeth into and chew on, I'm going to stop here for today to allow these two verses to really marinate in your soul.

Allow the genuineness of God's love that He has worked in you, be evident in your daily life.

"And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ...Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure."
~Philippians 1:6, 2:12-13 (ESV)

Please join me as I continue Part 2 of this three part series on Christian love.