Real, not fake – extract from ‘Gospel Community’ Foundation module
The following is an extract from our Foundation Course module ‘Gospel Community’.
“Let love be genuine,” says Paul. Other translations say “sincere,” or “love must be without hypocrisy.” Paul here is pointing out the reality, both in 1st century Rome and 21st century Wherever, that often people speak words of love without them being heartfelt or evidenced by any actions. Fake love is the love of the air-kiss and the talk-show host. It is the love that speaks but refuses to do: “Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth” (1 John 3:18).
And when Paul is talking to the church in Corinth in 2 Corinthians 8:8 he encourages them strongly to give generously in response to the emergency in the church in Jerusalem. He says this: “I say this not as a command, but to prove by the earnestness of others that your love also is genuine.” In other words, I will know how much you really mean that you love your brothers and sisters in Christ by how it works out in generous giving to them. And Paul is even happy to talk about testing their sincerity. It is only real inasmuch as it is proven by practical action – in this case, financial generosity. Real love translates into action. If you love someone, you show it by what you do. Loving with words but not actions is not merely second best, it is demonic.
Real love might mean going out at night to see someone when you have just got into bed. It might mean putting off your Saturday evening in front of the TV to give a person a lift somewhere. It might mean sitting with them and keeping them company when they give nothing back. It might mean doing countless things that you would rather not do. Our culture often does love a great disservice by romanticising it. It thinks that love is an intense feeling of affection of sexual attraction, or perhaps just an emotional ‘click’. In contradistinction, sincere love is a genuine commitment to and identification with another person, which does not wait for the feeling to come to start showing love. Sincere love does not wait for a feeling, nor does it expect or demand it. Show and appreciate committed, principled, practical love.