Don't just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. When God's people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality. Romans 12:9-13
My kindergarten class put on a play for our entire elementary school with me playing the distinguished role of Tree #2. All I had to do was hold my arms above my head, look dapper in my brown and green sweater, and recite one line.
The bright lights and the eyes of my family and friends staring back at me were too much to handle. I froze, stuttered, and messed up my part. My acting career was over before it even really began.
They say to be a great actor, one has to be good at pretending. On the stage, I was horrible at acting, but, if I'm honest, when it comes to my relationships, I'm often Oscar-worthy. I give lip service to love rather than display it. I extend my hand only to the point where it doesn't become inconvenient or uncomfortable. It appears I'm giving someone my undivided attention when, in reality, my focus is all over the place. Going through the motions tends to be the standard speed of my relationships.
I think those tendencies is what makes reading today's passage in Romans so convicting. There's no such thing as half-hearted love. Lazy selflessness is reluctant service driven solely by obligation. We can't pretend to care - we either do, or we don't. Christ challenges us to display genuine love to others, not some fake knock-off version that puts parameters on our investment.
People can spot a fake a million miles away. Hypocrisy creates walls. Our message of Christ's life-changing love falls on deaf ears if others don't catch a glimpse of it in our words and actions.
True love can't be felt from afar or when we keep others at arm's length. It requires sacrifice, intentionality, and effort. It involves giving our time, talents, and resources to encourage and care for those around us. It entails getting to know others as well as making ourselves known, both the good, bad and ugly.
Like Tree #2, there's an audience out there waiting for you to do your part. There's a role only you can play. So, today, display genuine love and build roots in your relationships.
Where are you going through the motions or giving lip service to love?
What would it look like to display genuine love in these connections?
God, at times, I struggle to love those around me. Selfishness and laziness get the better of me. I put limits and rules on how and when I care for others. Remind me how much this attitude breaks Your heart. Since I have been loved much, I need to love much. May my heart’s desire be to express Your love to others through the way I live my life. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.