It is really easy to fake loving people in today’s culture. An instagram like, a “heart-eye emoji” comment on a facebook picture, and a quick text all make us seem genuinely interested in the people in our lives without actually having to put in effort. Words can be a great way to show someone you love them, but those words mean nothing if they are not followed by action. Faking it is an issue now and was clearly an issue when the Apostle Paul was alive. In Romans 12, Paul writes to the church telling them to “love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it” (Romans 12:9 MSG). Paul then gives the church clear examples of how to show love through action instead of simply faking it.
In verses 9-13, Paul encourages believers to honor each other. Honoring each other simply means affirming each other’s identity in Christ. You can do that by celebrating the good things you see in your friends. Hold them accountable to the life God has called them to live without judgement. Hating what is wrong doesn’t mean that you hate the person doing wrong. You can still honor your friends without supporting their bad decisions.
Holding people accountable requires humility. When we recognize the ways we fall short of God’s standard, it’s easier to show grace to our friends when they also fall short. Loving them well means praying for them and standing by them as they work through difficulties. In verse, 15, Paul says to “be happy with those who are happy and weep with those who weep.” Showing empathy to your friends is one of the greatest ways you can honor them. When you meet your friends in their hurt instead of condemning them for falling short, you are honoring them and loving them well.
Paul sums up what is looks like to love in action in verse 18 when he says “Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.” When it comes down to it, loving others really looks like trying to bring unity into every situation because that’s what the Kingdom looks like, believers who are for each other and stand together for the name of Jesus. That’s what love is really about. It doesn’t matter if you get it wrong or mess up because the desire to love well is more important than the execution. Love without heart isn’t really love at all.
As you are going about your week, think of practical ways you can love your people well. Go through Romans 12:9-21, picking out the characteristics of love in action, and think of one way you can do those actions for the people in your life. Ask God to reveal in areas of your life where you are faking it, and then ask him to come and change your perspective.
God, forgive me for the ways I haven’t loved you with my whole heart. Show me what it looks like to love in action instead of in empty words. Thank you for leading by example through sending Jesus to die for me. May your perfect love teach me to love others the way that you do.
Author | Emily Baker