In Romans 12 verse 9 it says: “Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.”

I think there’s plenty that we can draw out from the first sentence. I’ll start from the last word and work backwards. Genuine. Sincere. True. I think we find it almost too easy to put on the facade of caring these days. That isn’t to say that we should abandon caring acts and investing in people if we feel like our hearts aren’t overflowing with selfless and boundless love for our fellow man. If we wait for our intentions and motives to be pure we’ll be waiting until the day we drop. Genuine love for us is bound to be a little messy. This is because, since Jesus left, God has been working exclusively through imperfect people.

And by His grace, we’re able to love sincerely. Now if you’ve ever been to a Christian wedding in your life you will have heard 1 Corinthians 13; love is patient, love is kind, etc. I don’t mean to be flippant about it, since that’s some meaty and extremely important stuff. But I just want to take one verse out of that. Verse 7 says: Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love bears all things. It can be burdened and have obstacles set in the way but it can carry on and cross them all. Genuine love, it would seem, is not something that is subject to whatever current stressful situation we’re in. It is not affected but rather is more evident when burdened. It is constant even when there are things that would attempt to hinder it.

Love believes all things. Sincere love is not cynical or discouraging. It is encouraging. It empowers. It brings life. It trusts. It doesn’t have to be earned, but is just given. Trust is something that is hard to give someone without some skepticism. In fact it’s almost trendy to be cynical these days. No one wants to step out and just trust. Yes, by believing in someone you are in a place of vulnerability because it is absolutely possible for disappointment or betrayal. But, to take it back to the previous trait, love will bear the burden even of betrayal. It will be painful, but genuine love is not broken so easily. And in fact betrayal is one instance where true love is really shown. Because it does not falter. It continues through when many would expect it to fail.

Love hopes all things. Love trusts and believes, but to take that a step further, it hopes for the best. It isn’t blind optimism. It is the desire that good will happen. To love someone genuinely means to want to rejoice in their victories and want to see them do well. To empathize with their hopes. To share in what they’re looking forward to. To be encouraging and not losing faith.

Love endures all things. We live in a very imperfect world. It’s a world in which people have developed into the sort that use cynicism as a way of coping with disappointment. If you’re expecting everything to go wrong you’re either right, or pleasantly surprised when things actually work out. You’re playing it safe. After taking some time and thinking about this whole subject I’m of the opinion that I’d far rather endure the storm than to just expect that it’s coming. Love endures all things. That means it is lasting. Impervious to whatever might be thrown at it. To love sincerely is to put yourself in a position that some would consider vulnerable. But if it is truly enduring, then it is the cynics rather than the loving, hopeful, trusting ones who are being left defenseless.

Now that was all to talk about “genuine love” and I’d like to go back to the very very beginning of this…..geez I guess it’s an essay now….and talk about that first verse. “Let love be genuine”. I like that it says “let”. My reasoning is this: We are not the source of it. We are allowing it through. To me that means the ability to bear all things, to be absolutely trusting, to be faithful and hopeful, and to be ever enduring is not on us. It is on the source. Jesus is where all of this comes from. Like I said earlier, love is shown all the more through betrayal. And in the life of Christ we have seen Him love greatly through the most historically significant act of betrayal ever. His love was made known throughout the world because of it. He is the originator of love. We are so fortunate that this is who we serve. He is love. He bears all burdens, He trusts and believes in us, He desires the absolute best for us, and He endures all things with us.