It's been a short while since I've written in this space. If you are part of the Riverwood family, hopefully you participated in our 21 Days of Prayer. A HUGE shout-out goes to each of the authors of the devotionals! What a joy and privilege it was to be encouraged by different members of the Riverwood family to follow Jesus and explore the various areas of life in which we need to surrender to God.
But now that our 21 Days of Surrender are done, I want to start a new series here on the blog. Roughly 14 months ago, we did a series called One Thought where each week we looked at just one thought from one verse out of John 1. Because I really enjoyed that series, I thought we'd do it again, but this time we'll be looking at one thought out of Romans 12, verses 9 through 13.
Years ago, when I was on staff at a Bible church in Cedar Rapids, my pastor said, "Want to know what a Christ-follower should look like? Just read Romans 12." Because my desire for us is that we would truly embody the heart of Christ and not just simply be "nice people," I thought it would be a healthy practice for us to ponder a portion of this important chapter from Scripture to help us consider how we can "live like Jesus lived and love like Jesus loved."
So to get started, let's tackle the first phrase from Romans 12:9: "let love be genuine."
I don't know about you, but when I hear the phrase "let love be genuine," I can't help but initially think, isn't love always genuine? Then my mind is flooded with how much selfishness is mixed into my love.
For instance, I dearly love my wife and would give my life for her. But I "love" her more when she does all of the cooking and cleaning, when she sews my ripped sweater and spares me from Walmart runs, when she takes care of the pile of mail on the kitchen counter and doesn't ask me to do very much despite her packed schedule as a math teacher and robotics coach.
Stunned, I realize that at times my love isn't always "genuine." Rather, it is often marked by various conditions, expectations, and selfishness. That's not an authentic, true, honest, transparent, "genuine" love at all! That's a me-centered love that only cares about what I can get from my wife rather than what I can do to honor, serve, and care for her.
To know what genuine love looks like, we only need to look at Jesus. While on earth, He didn't love us for what He could get from us. He loved us with a true, honest, authentic love. As we read the Gospels, we can see His love in His actions towards humanity, hear it in His teaching, and understand it through His cross.
To follow Jesus is to imitate Him. This means that as we imitate Him (albeit, imperfectly), others will see genuine love through our actions towards our neighbor, hear it in our words, and understand it through our selflessness.
So as I close, let me ask this question: What is one thing you can do today to genuinely, and not selfishly, love someone that God puts in your path?
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