Romans 12:9-17: “Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers. 14Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are. Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all.”
The character of genuine love can be compared and contrasted with the following two examples. Joseph Sitler was once in Washington D.C. talking to a man from the inner city. When the man learned Sitler was a minister, he asked him in a belligerent tone, “Tell me what difference it makes in my life that Jesus died on a cross two thousand years ago.”
In response, Sitler asked the man “Do you have some close friends?” When the man nodded yes, he continued, “Suppose one of them gets in trouble. What are you going to do with him?”
“Help him out,” he said. – “How long are you going to hang in there with him?”
“Well, if he's your friend, you hang in there.” -- “But he gets in worse trouble still. When can you cop out?”
A little peeved, the man said, “Man, if he's your friend, you don't cop out. Even criminals won't cop out.” Sitler looked at him and said, “And God came to us as a friend and identified with us in our problem. When can he cop out?” -- “You mean Jesus?” he asked.
“Yes. If he's a friend, when can he say, ‘That's it. I've gone far enough with you?’”
All at once, lights went on and the man said, “You mean that’s why Jesus had to die?”
“That's one reason,” said Sitler, “He couldn't cop out short of death, or else he wasn't really hanging in there with you.”
The man stood up, dusted off his pants, grinned at Sitler and walked away. The man had just learned about genuine love.
Now compare that to the respectable lawyer in Albert Camus' novel, The Fall. He’s walking in the streets of Amsterdam one night and he hears a cry. A woman has fallen into the canal and she's splashing about, yelling for help. Thoughts come rushing to his mind: of course, he must help; but, he's a respected lawyer. But, should he get involved in this? After all, who knows what’s been going on? Maybe she’s a woman of the streets, and people would assume he’d been with her! Maybe she’s been attacked, and someone would harm him if he'd try to help! But by this time, he doesn't have to worry about it anymore. The splashing has stopped. It's too late. She’s drowned. As he moves on, conscience on trial, he’s preparing his arguments for the defense, and in the end justifies his failure to act. Camus closes the scene with these words: “He did not answer the cry for help. That is the man he was.”
Here is a picture of someone you can't count on. That’s who he is, so don't ever ask him to make a promise, keep an appointment, or love anyone but himself. And, don't expect him ever to share genuine love, for that is not in the man. “That is the man he was.”
The character of genuine love is a love that will not let another person go. It will hold on whatever might happen to them personally, because the love within that person towards another is greater than even their love of life.
Jesus proved to you, at the cross, that his love for you is genuine. Today, bask in knowing how deeply you are loved.
~ God bless, Dan