Summary: Christians need to show love without hypocrisy.
Some time ago a young sailor called his parents after his release from the military service. He said he was bringing his buddy home to stay with him. “You see, Mom,” he said, “my friend is pretty badly broken up. He was severely wounded and has only one leg, one arm, and one eye.” After a little reflection, the mother said grudgingly, “Of course, Son, I guess he can stay with us a little while.” Her voice, however, carried the message that they would not like to be burdened very long with such a severely handicapped fellow. Two days later they received a telegram from the admiral’s office, saying their son had plunged to his death from a hotel window. When his body arrived for burial, his parents saw that he had only one arm, one leg, and one eye! The memory of her last conversation with him lingered with that mother her whole life. She often cried out, “Why didn’t I speak more carefully, more lovingly? If only I could take back those thoughtless words ‘he can stay with us a little while.’ But it is too late now!”
That woman lived with regret because she did not show true love. If we do not have love for others then we also will have regrets.
1. LOVE’S DEMAND (12:9).
"Let love be without dissimulation."
"And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments" (vv. 16-17).
The law promised life to those who kept it. God said in Leviticus 18:5, “Ye shall therefore keep my statutes, and my judgements: which if a man do, he shall live in them: I am the Lord.” So Jesus answered this young man’s question of what he could do to receive eternal life by saying, “If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.” Was Jesus telling this man that he could be saved by works and not faith alone? Theoretically, if a person kept God’s law perfectly, he would be saved by works, but that is not possible for anyone to do. Jesus’ answer was designed to show the man his inability to obtain eternal life by keeping the commandments. Let’s read on.
"He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself" (vv. 18-19).
The last-quoted command: “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself,” summarized the rest of the commandments that Jesus stated, and it ought to have opened the questioner’s eyes to his shortcomings; for how has love his neighbor as himself? The young man was not, however, convicted of sin. He pressed his enquiry as to salvation by works because he thought himself on the road to winning it.
"The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?" (v. 20).
Perhaps the young man really did think that he had perfectly kept all of these commandments. But his response to Jesus’ next statement would prove that he hadn’t.
"Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions" (vv. 19-22).
Was Jesus saying that in order to be truly saved we must sell all of our possessions and give the money to the poor. No, Jesus was showing the man that he had not really loved his neighbor as himself, and so he was guilty of breaking at least one of the commandments. How could anyone, who was content to be wealthy, profess to love his neighbor as himself while needy, poverty-stricken people were suffering all around him. If he actually loved these people as he loved himself, he would help them. This man professed to love others, but his actions proved otherwise.
Are you like this rich young man? Do you say that you love your neighbor when in reality you don’t? Paul wrote, “Let love be without dissimulation.” The word dissimulation means without hypocrisy. Is our love for others without hypocrisy? In olden times the “hypocrite” was a man who played a part on a stage. When we assume a character we do not have, we play the hypocrite.
Here are some other translations of this verse:
J. B. Phillips: “Let us have no imitation Christian love.”