Summary: This is the 2nd devotion in a series entitled, 'Building Relationships that Last.'
Building Relationships that Last
# 2 Love Must Be Sincere
In the first part of this series, we established the truth that the foundation for all relationships is our love for God, and love for one another. Since love is the key, we will try to understand how we can demonstrate this love for each other in tangible ways.
Paul teaches us in Romans 12:9, that “Love must be genuine.” (ESV) To say it differently, our love for each other should be sincere, with no pretense or hypocrisy whatsoever. Let me pick a couple of examples of those who practiced this sincere love and also of one who faked this love.
The love that bound Jonathan and David
Jonathan was the son of King Saul and he was the successor to the throne of his father. David, on the other hand, was an ordinary shepherd boy. When David defeated Goliath, there was a beautiful friendship that developed between Jonathan and David. Jonathan perceived that God’s anointing was on David, and that David was the one who was going to be the king after his father. Interestingly, there was no jealousy or ill-feeling, but rather a genuine and deep love that Jonathan showered on David. It was this love that made Jonathan protect David from King Saul’s rage, and stood by David till the very end. The friendship between Jonathan and David is explained in I Samuel 18:1, “As soon as he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.” (ESV) This was a soul-knitting love that developed between these two young men.
Judas’ spurious love
On the other hand, think about Judas Iscariot, the disciple of Jesus. He had the honor of being one of the twelve disciples whom Jesus prayed and chose. Judas heard every teaching of Jesus, witnessed every miracle, had every need taken care of, was handed over the responsibility of holding the money bag and was the recipient of Jesus unconditional love. However, somewhere along the way, Judas’ heart was set on worldly things, and turned against the Lord who called him. To everyone, it appeared that he was with Jesus, when in reality, he was conspiring against Jesus. Not only did he agree to betray his Master for thirty pieces of silver, let us look at the subtle way in which he actually carried out his plan. Here is one of the saddest questions in the New Testament, when Jesus asked Judas in Luke 22:48, "Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?” (NIV)
Judas’ association with Jesus gave him the accessibility to approach him freely that night in the Garden of Gethsemane, and he did something most despicable. His sign to the conspirators who wanted to arrest Jesus, was a kiss. A kiss as we all know is an expression of love and affection for someone dear to us, and this, Judas used, to betray the Son of God, who loved him till the very end. No one can imagine the pain that Jesus must have felt; for what seemed to others like a loving gesture by a disciple to his Master, was actually the camouflage of cruel betrayal.
The Agape Love of Jesus
Nonetheless, the greatest example of love was lived out by our Lord Jesus, who came down to the earth, with the sole purpose to save all of mankind from their sins. Jesus loved us so much, He was willing to lay down His life on the cross on behalf of each one of us. This love that Jesus demonstrated was the sacrificial, unconditional, undeserved, gracious and intentional love.
This love was best demonstrated by Jesus as He hung on the cruel cross. Listen to His words of love as recorded in Luke 23:34, Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” (NLT) This was the supreme expression of this agape love that Jesus demonstrated in His moments of unbearable pain and anguish, as He, the sinless Lamb of God gave His life for the sins of all mankind.
If we want to know how this love should be demonstrated in our everyday relationship here’s the way Paul explains it in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8: “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.” (ESV)
Oftentimes we claim to love people, but the question is, ‘Is our love sincere?’ Here are some questions we can ask ourselves to check if the love we demonstrate to others is a genuine love.