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Grow Love

Do you ever find yourself faking kindness or love to somebody?  Maybe it’s that person that sort of gets under your skin.  Maybe it’s that person who hurt you in the past.  Maybe it’s that person that you just don’t like or have a bad feeling about.  What if that person is in your church?  Should you just continue to fake it?

Well, Scripture clearly says that you should stop faking it.  Listen to Romans 12:9, Let love be without hypocrisy. Without a doubt, your “faking it” is hypocrisy, and hypocrisy is terribly woeful in God’s eyes.  Just read Matthew 23:13-33 if you don’t believe me.  Hypocrisy happens when your actions don’t match your words or your true feelings.  In this instance, you are acting kindly and lovingly when you’d really rather not because you really don’t love them.  That’s hypocrisy, and God says to stop it!

But why are you faking kindness or love to that person in the first place?  Obviously, the fact that you are faking it means that you know you should love them and that others expect you to as well.  You know that loving others is the 2nd great commandment (Matthew 22:39).  Your neighbor, as you well know, is humanity in general evidenced by the parable of the good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37).  You’re to love all people.

More importantly though, God calls us to an even greater love for those within the church.  God tells us through Paul in 1 Thessalonians 4:9, Now as to the love of the brethren, you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another.  God’s indwelling Holy Spirit exclaims in our hearts, “Love your brothers and sisters in the church!”  Galatians 6:10 demonstrates that we should do good and be loving to all people, but our priority is with those in our church family.  You know all of these expectations.  The Holy Spirit and your teachers have taught you these things.  That’s why you are outwardly conforming to God’s expectations while inwardly rebelling.  You are carrying on with your hypocrisy by faking your love to them when you don’t really love them, and God says to stop being a hypocrite.

The question is how you should go about stopping the hypocrisy.  You have two options:

  1. Stop acting like you love them because you don’t anyway so that your actions will match your attitude.
  2. Start actually loving them because you should so that your actions will match your attitude.

Which option operates under the authority of the flesh, and which one operates under the authority of the Spirit?  In other words, which one is the biblical option?  In all honesty, option 1 is very attractive because that would be easiest and most satisfying to our flesh.  We would love to just blow them off or tell them off and be done with them, but you know that’s not right.  Haven’t you found that the biblical thing to do is often the harder of the two and causes our flesh to shriek in opposition?  Obviously, option 2 is the biblical one.  In order to erase our hypocrisy, we must bring our attitude in line with our actions.  Our acts of love must be done out of genuine feelings of love.  Then and only then will our love be without hypocrisy.

You might be saying, “I know I should show love and feel love for that person, but it’s so hard.  How do I do it?”  Let me give you five ways to increase your feelings of brotherly love for that hard to love person.

1)  Get the right perspective.
Your hypocrisy is a sin against God.  God said to show love and to feel love for that person.  You must get your relationship with God right before you can ever get your heart right with that person.  The 1st and 2nd greatest commandments are connected (Matthew 22:36-40).  You cannot rightly love God if you do not rightly love man.  Get the right perspective on your lack of love as an offense to God, and come to God repenting of your sin.

2)  Pray for yourself.
What you are actually engaged in is spiritual warfare.  Therefore, you must fight spiritual conditions with spiritual weapons.  Beg God to fill you with the Holy Spirit so that love may grow in your heart for the person you are struggling to feel love for.  Ask God to keep empowering you to win against your flesh.  Seek God’s leadership in how to go forward with this person.  Commit yourself to follow Jesus in all things, especially in loving this person.

3)  Pray for them.
Undoubtedly, certain people are harder to love.  They have certain temperaments, besetting sins, mannerisms, or opinions that can be difficult to handle and may be unChristlike.  However, you cannot change them.  Only God can.  Therefore, you must pray to God that He would change them, conforming them to Jesus Christ.  Again, this battle is of a spiritual nature.  Therefore, wage war with spiritual weapons.  Furthermore, it’s just a spiritual law:  your love grows for those for whom you pray.  Get on your knees, and intercede for them so that you’re love may grow!

4)  If they have hurt you in the past, deal with that past.
It really doesn’t matter if you were the perpetrator or the victim.  Either way, you have an obligiation to the other person to make things right between you.  Yes, whatever happened is in the past, but undoubtedly the past is still causing problems in the present.  Therefore, it must be dealt with.  Yes, this is incredibly hard, especially for those like me who tend to want to sweep things under the rug to keep down conflict, but it must be dealt with.

Listen to what Jesus teaches us in the book of Matthew.  First, listen in Matthew 5:23-24, Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering. This text is speaking to the perpetrator.  If you know that you have offended or hurt somebody, you are obligated by God to go and reconcile with that person.  Second, listen in Matthew 18:15, If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. This text is speaking to the victim.  If somebody has offended or hurt you, you are obligated by God to go and reconcile with that person.  The past must be dealt with so that you can rightly love the other person and stop just acting like you do.

5)  Increase your kind and loving acts toward them.
Probably, if you are having trouble actually loving somebody, you are doing the bare minimum to get by in your actions.  Therefore, if you desire to grow your feelings of love for that person, intentionally increase the amount of acts of kindness and love directed toward them.  In doing so, your heart will hopefully follow your actions.

May Paul’s command come to pass in your life:  Let love be without hypocrisy.  May your hypocrisy cease as your feelings of love are brought into line with your acts of love.  May you show love and actually feel love for people, especially that brother or sister in Christ!

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