A Sincere Love of Others is an Act of True Worship

“Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically.” Romans‬ ‭12:9-11‬ ‭NLT‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

Here’s a breakdown of the reflection I had on the above Scripture:

1. Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. This refers to a commandment that speaks of loving others as you do yourself. The call is to genuinely care for others. But who are the others? Does this mean your family members, friends, people to your opinion are worthy of affection? What about the outcasts, social pariahs, people you don’t agree with, or who you thought of as your enemy? Loving others is loving everyone everywhere. Everyone. Everywhere.

2. Hate what is wrong. Hold on to the good.

This is where the message of a true love is often missed. If you do not believe that the cause of Jesus Christ is to love everyone everywhere, then stop reading and move on; there’s no conversation to be had here. However, if you believe that loving everyone everywhere is the core of Christ’s movement, let’s talk.

What love covers the multitude of sins means.

The phrase love covers the multitude of sins in 1 Peter 4:8 does not in anyway imply to ignore, excuse, or tolerate a bad behavior or an abhorrent act. You can forgive, extend grace, and seek justice at the same time. What the context of the message suggests is that through grace you must learn to love and respect the humanity of others unconditionally and that you see the person, even in his wickedness and vile existence, as deserving of God’s mercy. You have to understand that there is a clear differentiation between the person and the act and the human being and the disease.

Furthermore, verse 9 instructs to “Cheerfully share your home with those who need a meal or a place to stay.” As if trying to love the unlovable isn’t hard enough, why would God ask us to cheerfully help a despicable person?

Where your heart lies is where your home is built. Is your home built to only accommodate people who pass your compassion test? Are you so blinded by your emotions that you refuse to consider compassion and will rather deny a sick person of medical or mental intervention because you’re scandalized by the weakness he is associated by? Does your altar-offering consist of items marked off of your sanitized checklist?

Loving everyone everywhere. Hate what is wrong hold on to the good. What if this means loving both the victim and the offender? What if this means pushing you to differentiate between the offender and the despicable act? What if this means you’re being taught that you can forgive, offer mercy and help in this person’s transformation while also fully understanding the value of justice and rule of law? How do you reconcile that? Can you wrap your head around it? Are you willing to give the same grace to an innocent child and to a monstrous psychopath?

The thing is, what you’re both unwilling to sacrifice or embrace reveals the expanse of your worship. And in your reliance on the comforts of what you know and in your inability to seek factual information you also limit your ability to love unabashedly. Considering this, how can you be certain that you are truly testing everything, including your biases and belief system? Is your truth the same as Christ’s truth? Does it pass the litmus test of unconditional love? Are you capable of bestowing love and respect to the social outcasts without conditions? Keeping in mind the foregoing, are you one who pass a judgment unto others and one who either wittingly or unwittingly deny a person an opportunity to experience God’s love through you or through other means?

3. Take delight in honoring each other.

Simply put, honor is regarding with great respect. Are we genuinely putting this into practice? Instead of celebrating the success of a well-done work, do we look at the person who did the job too well as a show-off or do we celebrate the fact that it impacted others in a transformative way? Do you resent that others are getting encouragement for their efforts and you’re not? Do you secretly plot on upping or purposely demeaning the other person because you’re not getting what you thought is the attention you also deserve? Are you driven by pride and jealousy that honoring another’s person’s individuality is too tall of a mountain for you to climb? What will it take for you to see that the value of each person’s humanity is based on God’s standard of grace and not yours?

Serving others in love is an act of true worship.

The focus of a true worship is centered on God’s commandment on love. Jesus said in Matthew‬ ‭22:37-40‬ ‭MSG‬, ”Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence. This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: Love others as well as you love yourself. These two commands are pegs; everything in God’s Law and the Prophets hangs from them.”

‭‭The act of a true and acceptable worship demonstrates a reverent love and devotion to what God holds dear. And what God holds dear is His love of us, and what He requires of us by our love of Him is to love others as much as we love thyself. We were all given talents and gifts. Your talent is a gift from God. Your demonstration of it in the love and service of others is your true worship of Him. To use author Anne Lamott words: Stop comparing your insides to someone’s outside. When you do this, you allow more time for self-reflection and communion with God.

Test if your act passes the litmus test of love. Check if your motivation is brought by either guilt or obligation. Inquire if what you’re doing is a breathing part of your petitions. Investigate if what you do represents God’s desire. See if your act, when done to you, will please you. Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence. Love others as well as you love yourself. The heart of the life we live every day is the worship we offer to God whom we say we love with all our heart.

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