Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.
In Part 1, I started with the seemingly simple topic of loving others. How do you love others?
What We Learn About Love From the Scriptures
If we are full of God’s love, it will overflow to others
That is an amazing description of being filled with God’s love—overflowing to others, and having a definite impact each day. I must admit some people are difficult to like or love. Those who annoy us, and go out of their way to make life difficult for us. That’s why we can look at the New Testament teaching from Paul’s letter to the Romans where he writes: “Be sincere in your love for others…Love each other as brothers and sisters and honor others more than you do yourself. Never give up…Be patient in time of trouble and never stop praying. Take care of God’s needy people and welcome strangers into your home”. (Romans 12:13 – CEV). And then, “Be friendly with everyone…Make friends with ordinary people” . (Romans 12:16 -CEV)
Love must be genuine
The word ‘genuine’ literally means ‘without hypocrisy’. It originally referred to an actor who played a certain role on stage. It came to mean anyone who acts contrary to his own true feelings. It particularly applies to those who put forth the appearance of virtue that they do not actually possess. Eugene Peterson offers this paraphrase (Romans 12:9 –The Message): “Love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it.” Don’t try to be someone else. Be sincere—others will appreciate you for that. It must be very difficult to live a lie. Don’t do it—God has made you the way you are, with your personality and talents.
Love must display tender affection
Paul says, “Love one another with brotherly affection” (Romans 12:10a – ESV). Paul uses two words that speak of the love of family members for each other. One of them is a word you already know: philadelphia. It comes from two Greek words that have been joined together: philos, which means tender affection, fondness, devotion, and adelphos, usually translated ‘brother’. Can you see others as your brother or sister? Can you forget about yourself for a few minutes and think of others? Unfortunately we live in a selfish world, where the focus is on self—me and my rights. That’s not what Jesus teaches.
Live in true devotion to one another, loving each other as sisters and brothers. Be first to honor others by putting them first. (Romans 12:10 – The Voice)
Love Must Honour Others
“Outdo one another in showing honor,” says Romans 12:10b (ESV). The Greek word actually has a sense of competition about it, so the translation “outdo one another” is very accurate. It means ‘honour others more than you do yourself’. We live in a day where the opposite seems to be case. We hear much about quotas, preferential treatment and affirmative action. In the Christian context, it means that we take affirmative action to make sure that others receive preferential treatment before we do. This obviously goes so much against our human nature that it is not possible without the infusion of God’s Holy Spirit in our hearts. President Ronald Reagan had this saying on his desk in the Oval Office: “There is no limit to how far you can go if you don’t care who gets the credit.”
Love Must be Generous
Paul also says, “Take care of God’s needy people…” (Romans 12:13a – CEV) or “Contribute to the needs of [others]” in the ESV translation. The word translated ‘contribute’ is the verb form of the word koinonia—to share with others. On one level it means sharing in the hurts and heartaches of others. On another level, it means opening our pocketbook and giving so that the poor believers will have their needs met. Here is a true measure of your Christian faith. What are you doing to meet the needs of those who have less than you? We can extend this to supporting God’s work around the world. Are you generous with your money?
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Mother Teresa said, “Love is not patronizing and charity isn’t about pity, it is about love. Charity and love are the same—with charity you give love, so don’t just give money but reach out your hand instead.” (A Simple Path, Mother Teresa)