Focus: Expressing love
Romans 12:9-10 (NIV) Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.
Love is expressed in many different ways. Some people have no trouble at all demonstrating love and affection—yet others are baffled when it comes to showing or saying how they feel. Still others feel completely intimidated, by the act of revealing their innermost feelings to another human being, no matter how deeply they care for them.
At times, difficulties in making expressions of love can be related to a history of past failure or rejection. In a relationship that has been painful, feelings of resentment can get in the way.
Some people have the opinion that love is ‘complicated’…and sometimes it is, but failure to express love in sincere ways, can cause any love relationship to be complicated.
I’m not sure what the writer of the Book of Romans was referring to when he said, ‘hate what is evil, cling to what is good’, but for my own purposes, I’m going to ask you to think of ‘evil’ in this case, as not expressing love—and ‘good’ as expressing love in sincere ways.
Every person on the planet was born with a need for love. People who were not ‘loved well’, may have never learned to ‘love well’. As much as they might wish they could—they have a hard time letting down their guard, as a result of their own emotional needs not being met and developed early on.
‘Being devoted to one another in love’, is a statement that could be easy, when both parties are mutually interested in meeting the other’s emotional needs—but when one person isn’t doing their part—the situation can be difficult.
Someone who missed out on the love they should have been shown when they were younger, might give the impression of being ‘distant’ or ‘uncaring’—when truthfully, there are areas in their heart that are still wounded, and need healing. These people might be ‘tough to love’ because of their seeming ‘hard shell’, but practically everyone will eventually respond to consistent and sincere expressions of love. Romans 12:9-10 doesn’t allow for excuses. Sure, it takes patience and perseverance to continue reaching out to someone with sincere expressions of love, who can’t or won’t reciprocate—but in a situation like that, we need to draw our hope and encouragement from the Word of God.
The exhortation in Romans, to ‘make sincere expressions of love’ isn’t necessarily referring exclusively to romantic love. The command can be applied to all of our friendships and acquaintances.
Mary Kay Ash, the founder of a cosmetics business that grew to 800,000 representatives in 37 countries, with annual sales of 2.2 billion dollars, often encouraged her staff to act as if each person they met was wearing a sign around his or her neck that read, “Make me feel important.”
The Golden Rule comes to mind, once again, as we are told to ‘Honor one another above yourselves’, in Romans 12:10. In other words, whether our own needs are being met, or not, we still need to be willing to make sincere expressions of love out of obedience to God and His Word.
A good example of this is found in Romans 5:8, which says, “But God demonstrates His own love for us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for our sins.” When we’re are faced with having to continue reaching out to someone who doesn’t do a great job of returning our sincere expressions of love—we must remember that Jesus died for us, ‘in advance’ of our love for Him being fully developed…yet He was still willing to go all the way to the cross as proof of His love for us—and His desire to have us with Him for all eternity.
Not all people speak the same ‘love language’, according to Dr. Gary Chapman, author of the book, ‘The 5 Love Languages’. Some people are motivated with words of affirmation, gifts, acts of service, quality time, and physical touch. Considering Chapman’s discoveries, be careful that your efforts to make sincere expressions of love are performed with the other person’s needs in mind—remembering they may not be the same as yours. The Golden Rule must be ‘bent’ a little in this case, as we seek to love others in the way they would most like to be loved.
Declaration: I will find new strength by being filled more fully with the love of God. As His love flows through me, I will care more deeply about the people around me. I will make others feel important and appreciated, by making the effort to learn what kinds of sincere expression of love would mean most to them—and then expressing my love for them in those ways.
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