Genuine love “outdoes”.
This is an issue that Jesus takes up with “some of the Pharisees and scribes” in Matthew 15. Jesus asks them, “why do you yourselves transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?” The Pharisees had seen some of Jesus’ disciples eating without washing their hands. This critical eye can be found in us as we are tempted to look on someone who doesn’t use the same Christian talk as us, dress like us or emphasize the same things we do. Criticalness can negatively affect us like a deadly cancer within our own fellowship.
One way it does so is when it keeps us from showing honor, from valuing another brother or sister. When I value someone beyond words, I will be “doing” something in their life. The Pharisees had something that could have helped their father and mother and instead of giving it to them they said, “Whatever I have that would help you has been given to God.” In doing so, Jesus rightly identifies them as “hypocrites”. You say you represent God and yet you keep back something that another needs and it is in your circumstance and ability through God’s help to give and yet you keep it back. Your daughter is asking for help with her homework and you choose to keep watching the T.V., that’s not representing God, that’s hypocrisy – living for self and claiming to be an ambassador for Christ.
Do I have opportunities to give a kind, encouraging word? Possibly send a text or make a call. Other practical ways we show we truly value others is by honoring their convictions, listening to them and in expressing an interest in their interests.
There may have been no one in scripture who outdid showing honor to others than Paul, except for Jesus. We see genuine love explained by Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:14, “…I will not be a burden to you; for I do not seek what is yours, but you;…” Like we heard Santosh preach recently, what do my children see in mommy and daddy? Seek your own or fall into the ground and die? The latter, we know, is the kind of genuine love for God that will bear eternal fruit. Paul did not seek his own in his relationships with other believers but did all things for Jesus and the gospels sake. In Romans 9:3, Paul says, “For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren,..” A man who could make such a statement was filled with a selfless love that cannot be found anywhere on this earth except in Christ Jesus.
This leads us to consider, how did Paul get such genuine love in his heart? And isn’t there some reality in all our hearts that longs and desires to experience and express this love? May our Father show us how much He loved us and how much He continues to love us and how much He loves each child in His family so that His loving nature flows in and out of us continually. 2 Peter 1:6-7 in the Living Bible says, “Next, learn to put aside your own desires so that you will become patient and godly, gladly letting god have his way with you. This will make possible the next step, which is for you to enjoy other people and to like them, and finally you will grow to love them deeply.”
Paul first realized this love when he was an enemy of Jesus, looking to destroy His followers. What he found, as God put him in the dust, was that the One who Paul hated and was trying to kill, loved him enough to die for him and save him and supply him with everything he needed to serve Him throughout the rest of his life! It is a love that is able to love one’s enemies, a love that is able to overlook and cover a multitude of sins. Paul knew these realities in his mind and he also practiced them in his life because he knew God ….may we grow to know God better and to love each other with a genuine love, free of hypocrisy that makes us doers of His word cheerfully and without thought for self.