Is your love...genuine? (Part 2)

Yesterday we got to closely examine the first two verses of Romans 12:9-13. This amazing passage is filled with so much of God's goodness, trying to discuss it in one article is like trying to drink out of a fire hydrant—though you're thirst will be quenched, much of the rich nourishment will be wasted.

Since a meal is best enjoyed when it can be savored, not when it's being shoved down your throat, we'll continue to take our time and cover only verse 11 today.

"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)

Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit [or Spirit], serve the Lord. I love how God uses two totally opposing words together, in the beginning of this sentence: slothful and zeal.

Slothful (adj.)sluggardly; indolent; lazy.

Zeal (noun): fervor for a person, cause, or object; eager desire or endeavor; enthusiastic diligence; ardor.

God is basically saying, "Don't be lazy in being eager to live in step with, and by His Holy Spirit" (Gal 5:25). What an incredible way to make a strong and sobering point. We, in our depraved thinking can actually be lazy in doing good, lazy in being enthusiastic, lazy and indifferent to living with purpose, but mostly, lazy in showing genuine love to God and others. It sounds awful to be like that, but if we're  honest with ourselves (me, included), we've all done that or are still in the midst of being deceived by this lie: Just surround yourself with religious people, religious talk and religious activity, and this will make up for neglecting to feed your soul by daily studying, meditating and personally applying God's word to your life.

It is a sin for any Christian to neglect this commandment (Jn 1:14, 6:27; Matt 26:26) from Christ. Constantly renewing our minds with God's word is essential for our hearts to be transformed so that our lives will reflect the agape love and the glorious power of Jesus Christ (Gal 2:20). Without this vital Christian discipline, our lives will look exactly like unbelievers, except with a few vain,  "religious" activities added to it.

So, you go to church regularly, you sing in the choir and/or volunteer in multiple ministries within your church, you attend or participate some how in every event at your church and you even homeschool or private school your children, and perhaps you extend your "service" outside of your church walls to the homeless in your community or to shut-ins, or regularly involve yourself in other such "noble" causes.

Do not be deceived into believing that all your religious acts please the Almighty because unlike the rest of the world, He is not fooled by meaningless, external activity; He is moved by hearts that are humble and demonstrate genuine love towards Him, and others (which is the greatest commandment).

"For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward Him...All these things My hand has made, and so all these things came to be, declares the LORD. But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at My word."
~2 Chron 16:9a; Is 66:2
In verse 11 of this beautiful passage, we are commanded by our Creator God to live as He has purposed us to live: to pursue love, peace and righteousness (Rom 14:19; 2 Tim 2:22); to chase hard after Him; to live for a single purpose—the pleasure and glory of Christ the Lord. Essentially, we need to expend every breath God grants us to know Him more so we can love Him better...and better and better and better.

So, if you're a true child of God, you'll listen to what the Almighty Himself says:
"If anyone says, 'I love God,' and hates his brother [or sister in Christ], he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from Him: whoever loves God must also love his brother."
~1 John 4:20-21
We either trust, believe and live off of every word that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord (Deut 8:3; Matt 4:4) or we trust, believe and live off of every thought and lofty opinion that we've crafted in our own minds ( Prov 18:2; 2 Cor 10:4-5).

No one can simultaneously live by God's perfect commandments and by their personal affinities. So, test yourselves and see if you have the genuine love God defines in Romans 12:9-11. Then join me again for Part 3 as we examine and learn to apply verse 12 to our lives in practical and meaningful ways.

Please join me as I continue Part 3 of this three part series on Christian love.