Rarely are commands from God’s Word so simple: Love sincerely (NIV). Love genuinely (ESV). Don’t just pretend to love others (NLT). Easily said. Not so easily done.
Though these weeks weren’t posted on here (Sorry!), God laid Romans 12:9 on my heart each day (“Let love be without hypocrisy” [NASB]). Situation after situation came up where I was forced to choose whether to speak the truth in love, to lie to cover up an embarrassment or fault, to stay quiet when I wanted to speak, or to love those who I’d rather have a pass on loving. The Holy Spirit kept prompting me: Erin, love without hypocrisy.
People hate hypocrites. The truth is though, that we’re all hypocritical at times. We each exaggerate (or minimize) circumstances, say something to deflect blame or garner praise, etc. It takes lots of INTENTIONAL practice – with the help and grace of the Holy Spirit – to be truthful and loving not just in action but in motive. It’s often easier to appear genuine than it is to actually be genuine. That’s why Paul had to remind us about it. If affairs and murder are judged by the intention of the heart, why wouldn’t love be?
This is more narrative than the other posts, but this one hit home in a different way. I try to be very conscious of what I say to or about people, but it’s easy to get caught up in the moment or to let others rattle on about someone else without defending the “person of topic.” I had a moment like this a few weeks ago, and I spent an entire day concerned that perhaps those comments had been heard by that person or someone else. I retraced the conversation and repented, and I reasoned that what I contributed “could be explained and wasn’t that bad.” True. It could be explained, and I didn’t mean anything maliciously, but God convicted me by placing this question on my heart: What if everything we ever said about people was written down and handed to them? Would God and I be embarrassed or honored by my words if confronted? How much would I need to explain “using context”? If I need to explain it, should it even be said? And if it is, in fact, a truth, shouldn’t I be discussing it with the person himself or herself?
Not to be too tangential, but God does use third parties, and sometimes we must talk through a conversation with another before we actually have it. Often, however, it’s just more “convenient” to talk about someone rather than to them. We are uncomfortable with genuine love; sincere love; love without pretense. Yet, God calls us to go well beyond what’s comfortable, and He calls us to love like He does: inconveniently; unconditionally; sacrificially; truthfully. We never get a pass on loving.
I want to offer some questions prompted to me the last couple of weeks during this arduous and rewarding journey of loving without hypocrisy. Dig in and love well.
Questions & Suggestions to Consider
1. How often do I self-check my motives toward others and toward situations?
2. Pray that God will reveal your motives to you and change what needs to be changed.
3. Are there specific areas or people where or with whom I struggle being truthful?
4. Am I more likely to engage in gossip or to silently allow it? How can I fix this?
5. What if everything I ever said about someone was written down and handed to them? (See follow-up questions above in the text.)
6. How does God love me?
7. Which facets of love are most challenging to me: speaking truth in love; balancing truth and grace; loving the “unloveable”; unforgiveness; other?
Praying you have the strength, grace, and courage to press on and become more like the One whose set and met the standard. I love you.