Sincere or Fake Love?
Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil, cling to what is good. Romans 12:9
My husband was being downright mean. Plain and simple. He was deliberately trying to get me to divorce him by treating me poorly. True story.
As a wife, what would be a reasonable response?
In our worldly, sinful nature, one response tends to be defensive.
“Well, this, this, and this happened so I had no choice but to….”
Another response is to relatiate.
“Oh yea….you think I am a (fill in the blank!) Well, YOU are a (FILL IN THE BLANK!!!!!!!)”
In addition, we may retreat, removing ourselves physically, emotionally, or both.
“I am out of here.” (slammed door)
So, how did I respond to my husband’s treatment?
First, let me tell you that his treatment was not abusive. It was rude, mean-spirited, and selfish, but it was not abusive. Had it been, the correct response would have been to remove myself from an unsafe situation and seek professional help.
Second, my OLD way of responding includes all of the above list: defensiveness, retaliation, and retreating. In fact, these were used daily as responses to conflict.
One of our former pastors’ favorite two words in the Bible. But God.
(not recommended for children’s sermons…just sayin’)
Once God was back at the center of my existence–after a long rebellion–none of my old responses felt right. My renewed relationship with God changed me. I began to see that my responses to conflicts were ungodly. So, what was the right response?
Love. Sincere love.
Sincere love is “without hypocrisy.” It isn’t fake. It isn’t pretending. It is true. And most importantly, it is not something you can conjure up on your own.
Insincere–or fake–love is hypocritical. It says one thing and does another. For example, saying ‘I love you’ to your spouse but responding to them with anything less than a humble, generous spirit. (ie. defensiveness, retaliation, retreat)
Sincere love comes from GOD.
God is the source of sincere love. Thankfully, we both began to place God at the center of our marriage, allowing us to access a love we had never known. So, that same husband who was treating me so poorly now–with God as His guide–shares this profound statement: “I learned that the more I love God, the more I am capable of loving my wife.”
I learned that the more I love God, the more I am capable of loving my wife.
-Steve Goldberg (Our Journey From Hurt to Hope)
Romans 12:9 says “Love must be sincere.” And it goes on to say, “Hate what is evil, cling to what is good.”
What is good? GOD. God is good.
When we cling to Him, we have the ability to love sincerely. The closer we are to Him, the easier it is to love people from a true and right place in our hearts.
In our live presentation, Side By Side: Our Journey From Hurt to Hope, I share a story of how I was able to give genuine, sincere, unconditional love to Steve when he was doing the exact opposite. The only way to give that love was to receive it from God first.
For months, I would wake up and pray to God to give me a clean heart–because love doesn’t come from a resentful heart—I would pray for God to give me a clean (sincere) heart, so that I could….love Steve unconditionally.
-Lisa Goldberg (Our Journey From Hurt to Hope)
Sincere love comes from God.
He is the good we need to cling to.
What is evil? Sin.
Our own selfish desires and human responses to hurt and pain are part of our sinful nature. Sinful nature is part of the evil we need to hate. It seems counterintuitive, especially in the “love yourself first” culture we currently live in.
God is asking us to turn away from our sinful human nature and cling to God’s perfect loving nature.
Through Him, we love sincerely.
Through Him, we love ourselves as image-bearers.
Through Him, we are able to love others.
Is your love fake or sincere?
Is there someone in your life that you find difficult to love?
Are you trying to be a more loving person in your own strength?
Are you exhausted from the “fake love” mask you wear every day, trying to be a good person?
If any of these ring true, please take those feelings, fears, and human efforts to the Lord. Ask Him to give you sincere love. Read Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 13 to hear directly from God about what love is and isn’t.