Nothing gets to me more than a hypocrite. Hypocrisy ruins a testimony. It’s a tool of the enemy to attempt to destroy the church. I struggle to be in relationship with people who are not authentic, who will say one thing yet live another. For this reason one small verse recently took my breath away.
Romans 12:9 “Love must be without hypocrisy.”
If you follow me on Instagram, you know that love is the theme God is working on in my heart right now. Every verse I’m drawn to, the sermons I’m hearing, my quiet time readings. It’s all about love right now.
Our family is one month into a cross country move. Months of busyness and activity, stress, changes, sadness, new beginnings. At the end of my limit last week, it struck me that in our home, we were struggling to love each other well.
When God brought me to Romans 12:9, I couldn’t move past it. All day this verse ran through my mind. It’s one thing to say we love, it’s another to act on it despite our feelings. But to read that our love must be without hypocrisy, I realized that the work was a deeper work. One that needed to get to the roots in my heart.
To love without hypocrisy, I first must deny myself. A hypocritical love has self at the center. A love without hypocrisy, is a love that flows from the Holy Spirit through us creating in us the power to deny ourselves and pick up our cross and follow Him. Follow His leading of love, His sacrificial love.
Selfishness puts my needs first. My desires. My thoughts and ideas. Everything I encounter will begin to feel like a disruption, irritation, or inconvenience. That’s because everything is competing against me. It’s a ruthless battle determined to get its way no matter what.
Until we determine that love will win no matter what.
To love without hypocrisy is to love wildly free.
I heard the pounding of footsteps before I heard my son’s voice crying out, “They need your help. They are stuck in the mud with their bikes.”
“I hope you are kidding.”
“Why were they riding through the mud?”
“I don’t know, but they need you.”
I walked to the soon to be construction area that is nothing but dirt mounds, to find two of my boys covered in mud. Their bikes were literally stuck. Their feet stuck.
My reaction wasn’t pretty, and I often pray that my children not develop a picture of God based on my parenting.
“You got yourself into this, now you have to figure a way out.”
And I walked back home. Time passed and I made another visit to the mud. This time I coached them out of the mud and waited back at the house with clear instructions for beginning the clean up. I watched as they hosed the mud off their bodies, clothes, bikes. I berated them on why they would have done something like that.
The answer. It looked fun. We thought it was dry.
Of course, they were simply being boys. Adventurous. Carefree. Risk-taking. All I saw was the mess left to clean up and the damage done to bikes and clothes.
Carrying the weight of ourselves and our selfishness is like riding our bike through the mud. It appears dry. It promises to offer you a ride you won’t forget. It entices you in by appealing to your sense of desire. Once in, you begin to see the trap. Before long, you are stuck and crying out for help.
When you are deep in the mud, which quickly begins to feel like cement, you can think only of yourself. How to get out. You cry for help and have no capacity to think of anything but yourself.
When the mud begins to harden, and you feel yourself sinking, this is the point that anger, rage, despair, discouragement, bitterness, and regret begin to ooze.
When we reign, we think we are free, but we are walking through mud. The cleanup and recovery is a process. But love washes it clean.
“Love must be without hypocrisy. Show family affection to one another with brotherly love. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not lack diligence; be fervent in spirit; serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope; be patient in affliction; be persistent in prayer.” Romans 12:9-12
So this is what God is showing me. Love comes from Him. God is love. To love without hypocrisy, to outdo one another in showing honor, I have to put off my own selfishness in order to put on love.
To put off self is to kill my pride. When my pride rules my heart, I develop a critical spirit. I see the flaws of everyone around me. I am quick to see how I am right and they are wrong. Pride is the ultimate love slayer. Pride never puts another before itself. Therefore, love isn’t free to love. It’s put in chains.
My heart’s cry right now is to let love reign in my heart. To let Christ have His way in me. To allow me to think so little of myself that I allow myself room to think of serving Him only. With love.