Be Sincere In Love
Love Sincerely

In a Brief Survey of the Epistle of Paul to the Romans
Based on sermons preached in PCC Worship Services, July 2003 to Sep 2005
Part 61a of 83

9a Let love be without dissimulation. 9b Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. 10 Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another” (Romans 12:9-10).

We are in the applicatory section of Paul’s letter to the Romans. One of the first things he teaches us here is that the Church of Christ must serve together in unity on the basis of the spiritual gifts that Christ gives them.

Each one of us, —whether young or old, male or female, —has been given at least one gift. We must humbly and gratefully use our gift to build up the church. If anyone of us is not using our gift, the church is languishing or ill because of our neglect.

But now, as he enters into the next major paragraph, Paul is beginning to teach us how we may live together in the church of Christ in a bond of love.

Now, this passage is written in a very unusual way as far as the writings of Paul are concerned. Usually, Paul writes very logically with one point leading to another in a logical flow. But here Paul seems to be simply throwing out whatever comes to his mind that may be helpful for the church. In fact, if you look at the Greek you will see that the grammar is actually quite awkward.

But, of course, Paul is writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. So these are not just some random instructions. They are rather, inspired instructions which require our obedience if we are going to have a healthy church.

Now, if you study these instructions, you should be able to divide them into about fifteen distinct directives. But in the present study, the Lord helping us, we want to look at only the first three.

1.   Love Sincerely

9a Let love be without dissimulation.

Without going into a lot of details, we must realise that the love that the apostle is talking about is not characterised by emotions and feelings.

There are four Greek words that may be translated ‘love’ in the English.

·        One word is ‘eros.’ This word is describes the romantic feelings that a man and woman may feel for each other. This word is never used in the Bible.

·        Another word is ‘philos’, which speaks of the bond between friends.

·        Yet another is the word ‘storgê’ which speaks of the kindred feelings between relatives, especially parents and children.

Now, some form of these last two words appear in verse 10, but here in verse 9, the word that Paul is using is the word ‘agapê’ Paul is saying, “let your agape love be without hypocrisy.”

Agape love is the highest form of love. It is not a mere feeling. It is a love that is self-sacrificial. It is a love that may, as it were, be spelt G.I.V.E.

This is the love which the apostle John defines most beautifully in 1 John 3:16—

Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.

That is: we know what love is because Christ laid down His life for us. God’s love for us is shown in Christ’s laying down His life for us. Agape love is not mere feeling or emotion. Agape love can be seen. It involves an act of the will for the sake of another. It is a holy giving up of oneself for another. How much I love another is how much of myself I give to him or her. That is how much I love another is how much I give of my time, energy, possession and emotion to him or her.

Paul tells us that we must love. We must love God; we must love one another. That is to say: we must lay down our life for God, and we must lay down our life for one another.

But the human heart is very deceitful. We are good at pretending. We know that we should love because it is taught over and over again in the Scriptures. But there is a difference between knowing we are to love and actually loving. And there is a difference between saying we love and actually loving.

Thus, Paul says, “Let love be without dissimulation.” What does dissimulation mean? If you look at the Greek word underlying it (ἀνυπόκριτος, anupokritos), it is hard to miss the meaning: for you will immediately see a word from which we get the English word ‘hypocritical.’ Paul is saying that we must love without hypocrisy. We must be unfeigned and unpretentious in our love for one another. We must not put on a mask or pretend to love when we do not.

The apostle John is essentially teaching the same thing when he says:

“My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth” (1 Jn 3:18)

It is possible to say we love, when actually we do not love. It is possible to love hypocritically or insincerely. This is what the apostle Paul is warning us against.

What is it to love? Well, love for the brethren involves practically laying down our lives for one another. It involves more than praying for one another. It involves sharing of our substance, giving of our time, expending our energy and emotions, etc.

If a brother in Christ is facing a financial crisis and you are able to help, then to love him is to provide the help that he needs, cheerfully. If you tell the person, “I love you and I will pray for you,” and do not give him a single cent, then your love for him is a hypocritical love.

“But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?” (1 Jn 3:17) asks the apostle John.

Likewise, if you love someone, and the person needs comfort or encouragement, then you will go and give comfort and encouragement to the person even if it is in the middle of the night. If the person calls you, and you say: “Its mid-night already! Can you not call me tomorrow, instead?” then you know that you do not really love the person. If you love the person, you will talk to the person or even make your way there if necessary even if it is midnight.

If you claim to love the person, but you refuse to go to him when he needs you, then your love for him is hypocritical. You love your sleep or your television programme more than him!

This is what the apostle Paul is warning us against. It is like he is saying: We all know that we are to love; and we know what we are to do if we say we love. Let us, therefore, love sincerely.

Do you love one another sincerely? If you love someone sincerely, then you will not complain about him behind his back. If someone does something that you feel is unfair or hurtful to, you will not retaliate in kind if you love him. Indeed, you will not immediately assume that he acted out of malice. Instead, you will respond meekly and charitably, with a view to correcting any misunderstanding or righting any grievous against you. “Charity shall cover the multitude of sins” (1 Pet 4:8) says the apostle Peter.

Brethren, let us learn not to be hypocritical in our love for one another.

Let us love one another. Let us love in action. Moreover, let us love cheerfully and willingly. If someone is in need, and you are there to provide some help, but you are so sour-faced and grudging or grumbling, or you keep looking at your watch, then it is clear that your love is hypocritical. Seek rather to love in such a way that those you claim to love to, do not doubt the sincerity of your love.

But secondly, Paul teaches us to love good and hate evil.

…to be Continued Next Issue

 —JJ Lim