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Defining, living in sincere love

Brad McKenzie

Romans‬ 12: 9-21‬ NIV‬‬‬‬‬‬ “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.  

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.  Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. 

Do not repay anyone evil for evil.  Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody.  If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.  On the contrary: 

“If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”  Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”  

Anyone who is even slightly abreast with the current national political and societal landscape knows there is significant tension and disunity amongst us.  The tragic reality of discord is apparent in our neck of the woods enunciated through our own local economic, political and world view positions as well in houses of worship and racial makeup.  

The palpable strain of conflicting views is often perpetuated by a national media force who seem to be more concerned to point out faults and what divides than in finding positive truths among a nation mostly striving to do the best it can.  

Negativity, judgement and disharmony are factors that easily contaminate relationships and communities as we often are addicted to what is pessimistic.

The call to love is seemingly becoming more and more difficult, especially as what it means to love is more and more convoluted.  

Unity in our nation, community and even families tracks as a daunting endeavor predisposed to failure in a system of cultural climate change not connected to green house gases or co2 emissions.  The climate conditions suggest an atmosphere greater than hate, but of annihilation by the means of destroying the other at all cost.  

Love is harder and harder to find when chaos and distraction make it increasingly impossible for people to see and engage with real love, holy love, God’s love!

Paul gives very specific and necessary instructions to the Romans in the passage above.  What we must remember is that his words are not some new revelation or teaching he proclaims on his own accord, but are the rearticulating and life applying of the very words of Jesus in His Gospel message.  

He says that love MUST be sincere.  

That is, love must be honest, genuine, serious, trustworthy, real and dare I say, more than an emotional engagement.  

He then goes on to teach the reader that sincere love has practices and values that must exist for the sincerity of love to abound.  

“Hate evil, be devoted, honor others more than yourselves, love with zeal, practice hospitality, bless those who persecute not curse and do not repay evil for evil.”  

He even tells us to be committed to living at peace with others, even if others refuse while we also stay far away from revenge and offer grace to others (e.g. giving food and water) even when they do not deserve it.  

Above all, Paul says that love is sincere when it is articulated by overcoming the evil of this world not by more evil, but with more GOOD!

I contend that not only is this life application for love and unity not only the command for Christians, it is also possible and probable for we who commit ourselves to an ethic of love that is both Biblical and Christ-centered.  

If you and I will together commit ourselves to sincere love, I promise that the Lord will honor our community through transformation that the world desires to reject.  

If we will trust the Lord to make right the wrongs others have done to us, then we will find a freedom to love in a way that defeats the work of hate the devil is currently finding great success in the evangelism of human disunity.  

Therefore, Paul says love must be sincere.  

Insincere love, Hollywood love fails us when the emotion of love fades and life realities cause doubt about the value of relationships.  

As believers, our task is not to be on the winning side, it is to be on the Lord’s side.  Not on the correct political side, but on the side of God’s kingdom only.  

To be intentional about unity, no matter the cost while trusting in God’s Word to bring about victory for those who live in the truth of His Good News.  

This Valentine’s weekend is an opportunity for all of us to engage in a Romans 12 kind of love. 

 Again, this love goes beyond emotion, being right and obtaining justice.  This love, a holy love, allows for the Lord to have the true victory as He transforms my love, your love our love into something that the media, politicians and even Amazon can’t do.  Sincere Love!  

The love of God is perfect, it is transforming, it is Holy.  

Don’t let the insincere love of the world convince you that there is no sincere love.  

The love of Christ is the sincerest love that has ever existed.  That is Good News!    

Rev. Brad McKenzie is Lead Pastor at Orange First Church of the Nazarene, 3810 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive in Orange.