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What Is Real Love

Love must be sincere (Romans 12:9).

I have many fond childhood memories of Valentine’s day:
Valentine’s card exchanges in elementary school, boxes of candy hearts, stuffed
animals I was given by my mother. A special memory I have of college is a
Valentine’s dinner I attended with Sue
. We had just begun to date at the
time, and the dinner was a lot of fun.

This year, Valentine’s day is colored by the deep
divisions in our country
and the Christian call to love all people
. There
is a sense of urgency and a renewed sense of the relevance of the love command,
but what does it mean to love all people?

Right after saying “love must be sincere” the apostle Paul
says we are to “hate what is evil” and “cling to what is good” (Romans 12:9). Clearly,
he is not saying we should soft-soap evil in the name of loving all people.

There is a way to love the person while not agreeing with
everything that person does or says
. This love is grounded in the gospel,
which proclaims God’s love for all people. Inherent in the gospel message is
the truth that all of us are sinners in need of redemption.
There is no one
righteous, no not one (Romans 3:10).

So, we can and should resist cultural trends and
political ideologies we think are wrong and even downright evil
without
hating or attacking the other person. We hate the evil words and actions, and
the evil within everyone of us, but we love the other person as one loved by
God
.

Sincere love is not a feeling, but an action based on
convictions. Sincere love demonstrates the genuineness of our faith.
As the Bible says, “The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself
through love” (Galatians 5:6 NIV). It’s because we believe the gospel that
we act in love towards all people
. If we don’t love other people, then
we really don’t believe the gospel like we say or even think we do
.

Lack of love demonstrates a lack of faith. We
must repent of our unbelief and ask God to help us truly believe the gospel
message. This is a daily challenge, genuinely (sincerely) acting from faith
and not unbelief
, but this is the key to the Christian life and to our
witness in the world. As we sing, they will know we are Christians by our
love.

Lord increase our faith! We believe, help our unbelief!

May God fill you with his love this Valentine’s Day and each
day, as you overflow in the conviction that the gospel message is true. God
really so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son!

God’s best to each and every one of you!

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