CLCSB 2022 Fasting & Prayer Devotion
Day 5: Real Love
Now that we’ve made it over the hump, past the halfway point of our time of fasting and prayer, it’s all downhill from here. Ok, maybe that’s not quite the case. Many of us that have fasted for any length of time are well aware that the latter half is often the most difficult. So, we pray that the Lord will give us all an extra dose of His grace to help us through the final days of our fast.
Of course, the increased difficulty of our fasting time may very well be correlated with the difficulty of the verses we’ve been sharing from Romans 12. We can all relate to the last devotion and how difficult it can be to work together in unity with people whose giftings, personalities and preferences are far different than ours.
This level of difficulty makes us realize how desperately our minds need to be renewed in order to work together in unity. As we forge ahead to verses 9 and 10 of Romans 12, the Apostle Paul unapologetically challenges us onward to uphold one of the most basic foundational tenets of our faith. He exhorts us to genuinely love others.
As our lives continue to be transformed and our minds are being renewed, we are learning to receive God’s love by grace and with thanksgiving. In turn, we are encouraged in these next few verses to offer each other this same kind of love, real love…God’s love. Here is what Paul shares in Romans 12:9-10 from the New Living Translation:
Romans 12:9-10 NLT
9 Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. 10 Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.
One of the first things that we notice in this passage is that love can be counterfeit. We can exhibit all the actions that look like love without truly loving people. This is not what the Lord wants from us. God wants our love for others to be real. This means that there should be something that we cherish about people that makes them dear to our hearts.
As you ponder this truth, there are probably a few individuals that come to mind that make this a very difficult command to fulfill. If so, consider where your heart and mind truly are and begin right now to ask the Lord to help transform this area of your life. Ask Him to renew your mind so that you can genuinely love the people you find difficult to embrace.
There may be offenses that need to be forgiven. Or, as we shared in the last devotion, it could be a personality conflict that makes it difficult to get along with certain people. We could also have judgment in our hearts that deliberately or unwittingly condemns how certain people live, the choices they make, or the way they tend to behave in our presence.
Whatever the case may be, God wants all of us to love everyone with a genuine heart. Our love should never be fake. Real love doesn’t just go through the motions. Real love is felt fervently on the inside. And such love overflows to the point where others can feel it emanating from our hearts positively impacting their lives.
In the Gospel of John, it says in verse 35 of chapter 13 that people will know that we are believers in Christ by our love for one another. Are people around us having difficulty identifying us as believers because of a lack of genuine love? Are we allowing God’s love to fill our hearts to overflow to the point where it is evident that we are followers of Jesus Christ?
The kind of love that God wants us to display is not put on like makeup. He desires that our love flows from a transformed life and a renewed mind; a place within us that allows His love to become a centralized part of our Christian life. This kind of love brings healing to those that are hurting and restoration to those that are broken.
Love is one of the most defining characteristics of our Christian life. It is so fundamental to our faith that verses such as Galatians 5:14 and Romans 13:10 state that all the law is fulfilled by love. Love is obviously very high on God’s list of priorities. When Paul tells us in Romans 12:9 to hate what is evil and hold to what is good, loving others is the first place we need to start.
In 1 John 4:8, God is described as the very definition of love. It is with this magnitude of love that God came down in the form of His Son, Jesus, to die on the cross for the sins of the world. This is the same love mentioned in Romans 5:8 that says that God commended His love towards us that while we were yet sinners, Christ still died for us.
Here we see that God’s love is purposefully aimed at those that don’t deserve it. That means all of us. And as children of God, He expects us to express this same level of love to those who, at least from our vantage point, don’t deserve it.
Paul concludes verse 10 reiterating his plea for us to love each other genuinely and also to take pleasure in honoring each other. In the Amplified Version, it inserts in this verse that we are to love each other “as members of one family”. Family members may not always get along, but they normally have genuine love for each other.
Paul’s encouragement to us to love each other as family doesn’t mean that we will always get along or always agree. It simply means that we have love in our hearts to resolve conflict, forgive offenses, and respect our differences.
But in addition to overcoming difficulties, we must also remember to celebrate our victories together. Whether in good times or in bad, our love for one another makes it clear to everyone that we are Christ’s disciples and that His love reigns in our hearts from a renewed mind and a transformed life.
Day 5 Fasting Item: Secular Music
Daily Bible Reading: Philippians 4:19 And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
In Philippians 4:6, Paul says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” And then in Philippians 4:19 (just 13 verses later), he gives the liberating promise of future grace: “My God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” If we live by faith in this promise of future grace, it will be very hard for anxiety to survive. God’s “riches in glory” are inexhaustible. He really means for us not to worry about our future. We should follow this pattern that Paul lays out for us. We should battle the unbelief of anxiety with the promises of future grace. Write your reflections.