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What does it look like to genuinely love and care for our fellow Christians?

Romans 12:9-13

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honour one another above yourselves.11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervour, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

Cross,Jesus,God,Holy Spirit,Daily Devotions,Love

We have heard a lot in our church about how our members need to connect with each other and be relational. We hear the talk but do we stop to think what it would look and feel like to be genuinely loved and connected to fellow believers? Today’s passage gives us clear direction as to what that love should look like. Paul says ‘Love must be sincere’, in another translation it said ‘love must be without hypocrisy’.

What does sincere love look like: being genuine, not surface level? Is it looking in the eye of someone and truly connecting? Maybe it is caring enough to ask about their life and what is happening in it and remembering to ask about these matters the next time you see them. Sometimes we throw words at this but it is often helpful to be given an example that we can relate to, and I want to share one with you today.

Meet my friend Heather (‘Hev’ to all who know her). Hev was abused as a child and by her husband. She suffered much. The scars are still with her.  She has a limp because her legs were so badly broken by her abusers that she has plates inserted.  She has teeth missing due to abuse. When Hev found Jesus, she found a father who loved her and a brother who cared so much for her that he gave up his own life for her. In Christ Hev found genuine and sincere love. Hev’s knowledge of the love of Christ transformed her to be able to love others. She spent time caring for prostitutes and the homeless in Kings Cross, London. 

I had the privilege of meeting Hev as a fellow believer in my church in Eastbourne, England. Her love for me was sincere and genuine. She loved me enough to want to know my family.  She would speak with my boys asking about school and knowing what was happening in their lives. At one of my son’s birthdays she even turned up with cake. She invited us to her many rental homes (‘Practice hospitality’ (v12)) we made cupcakes and ate far too many sweets.  There was never a shortage of sugar in ‘Aunty Hev’s House’. I asked Tom (my son) the other day what he could remember about Hev. He mentioned her limp and I said “but did she ever complain?” “No” was the answer – she is an example of ‘patient in affliction’ (v12) Tom also said that he remembered her laugh – it was truly unforgettable.  She is ‘joyful in hope’ (v12). I mentioned Hev to my mum and she said the first time she met Hev was on the bus.  This lady went up the whole bus chatting with people and distributing pamphlets to invite people to a Christian outreach which was about to launch in our town.  This was Hev – she never lacked zeal in her service for the Lord (v11).

Hev often texted me to tell me she was praying for us. Through the tough times we went through she did not turn her back but she prayed, and when Hev said she would do something, she did.

Hev does not have money, resources or a set structure to the way in which she must love. Hev has the Bible and a transformed life that displays her spiritual fervour serving the Lord.  With that comes a desire to serve the Lord’s people. Her life is not rosy and I would be wrong to portray it as that, as despite her care for others she often does not receive love back. Motivated by Christ’s love for her she never gives up loving others.

I encourage you today to look closely to the love that you have received from Christ and consider how you can be spurred on to practice love for members of your church community and beyond – not because of what you will receive but because of what you have already been given.

Head: Think about what sincere love may look like.  Have you experienced it from someone in your church community?

Heart: Is there anything blocking your own ability to love others in your church community? Do you need to practice forgiveness in order to truly be sincere about your love for others in your church? Ask God for a heart change in order to be able to practice his commands in today’s passage.

Hands: Think of someone you can invite to your home or a café for coffee or lunch.  Remember it is not about the food but all about the fellowship. Try to be creative in the invite, i.e. not just your usual contacts. 

Prayer: Father God, thank you for your love for me: love that is deeper than any human relationship, love that is ‘real’, love that is sincere. Help me to look to you each day to see and know your love and to be spurred on to love others – not because of what I can get from them but because of what you have done for me. Amen.

A song to listen to: Love changes everything

Emma-Jane McNicol

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