"Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good" (Romans 12:9)
One of the differences between Christians and the world is our ability to love. This love comes solely from God and stems out of the fact that he first loved us. I John says, "Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God" ( I John 4:7 ). Our capacity to love is much more than a natural response to a feeling, our capacity is supernatural because we are children of God and God lives in us ( I John 4:7-21 ).
In today's passage Paul tells us that love must be sincere. It must be genuine - the real thing. It must be without hypocrisy. In our natural selves this is hard to do. It is not always easy to show love and compassion to one another, but this is the mark of a born again believer. Our love for one another should speak louder than any words we can express.
It is no mystery that love is the very first fruit of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law" ( Galatians 5:22-23 ). This fruit is the characteristics of God that were deposited in our born again spirit. These things were given to us at salvation and prove that we are children of God when we allow them to operate in our lives. We have been given a supernatural ability to love one another. Love is the anchor to every fruit of the Spirit because God is love and his love is the driving force behind everything he has done. In the same way, since God loved us we should love one another and allow His love to flow through us ( I John 4:11 ).
Not only should our love be the real thing, but we should hate and abhor what is evil and cling to what is good. James tells us that keeping ourselves unpolluted from the world is true and faultless religion in the sight of God ( James 1:27 ). This is because God is good and perfect and everything that is good comes from him ( James 1:17 ). So it is natural that we should cling to what is good being born of God. I John tells us the reason Jesus appeared was to destroy the works of the devil ( I John 3:8 ). He destroyed evil on the cross and all the works of Satan. John then went on to say, "This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother" ( I John 3:10 ). This is why Paul reminds to love and cling to what is good, because through Christ Jesus these things are who we have been created to be.
It is important to understand that living and operating in love is not something that we must work at, it is a natural byproduct of being born again and walking by the Spirit of God. Paul told us in Romans 8, "Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires" ( Romans 8:5 ). By simply walking in fellowship with the Lord and renewing our minds to the truth of God's word we will see these things manifested in our lives supernaturally ( Romans 12:2 ). This is the beauty of living by the Spirit of God; the changes that occur are effortless because in the process God changes our hearts to align with His heart. His characteristics become our characteristics as evidenced by the fruit of the Spirit in operating in our lives. Walking by the Spirit of God we will love deeply and gravitate toward everything good because his Spirit leads us. This is the way he designs us to function, not by trying in our own efforts and failing, but His spirit living within us.
What an amazing thing to love in the same way we are loved by God. Today, may this revelation of God's love for you overflow into your love for one another. May your love show you to be a child of God today, amen.