Love does no harm. Romans 13:10
Why can’t I stop thinking about it? My emotions were a tangled mess of sadness, guilt, anger, and confusion.
Years ago, I’d made the painful decision to cut ties with someone close to me, after attempts to address deeply hurtful behavior were merely met with dismissal and denial. Today, after hearing she was in town visiting, my thoughts had spiraled into hashing and rehashing the past.
As I struggled to calm my thoughts, I heard a song playing on the radio. The song expressed not just the anguish of betrayal, but also a profound longing for change and healing in the person who’d caused harm. Tears filled my eyes as I soaked in the haunting ballad giving voice to my own deepest longings.
“Love must be sincere,” the apostle Paul wrote in Romans 12:9, a reminder that not all that passes for love is genuine. Yet our heart’s deepest longing is to know real love—love that isn’t self-serving or manipulative, but compassionate and self-giving. Love that’s not a fear-driven need for control but a joyful commitment to each other’s well-being (vv. 10–13).
And that’s the good news, the gospel. Because of Jesus, we can finally know and share a love we can trust—a love that will never cause us harm (13:10). To live in His love is to be free.
How have you experienced or seen a difference between sincere and self-serving love? How can a community of faith help us learn to love others wholeheartedly?
Loving God, help me to learn the difference between real and counterfeit love and to share Christ’s love with those around me.
For love to be trustworthy, it must be sincere. The word rendered “sincere” in Romans 12:9 is the Greek word anypokritos, which features a prefix that negates the root word, hypokrisis, meaning “hypocrisy.” Put together and we get “no hypocrisy” or “sincere.” When anypokritos modifies the word love, what’s in view is love without a mask, without pretense or agenda; it’s the real thing. In 2 Corinthians 6:6, the word describes the kind of love on display among true ministers of Christ: “sincere love.” But love isn’t the only virtue that this word describes. In 1 Timothy 1:5 and 2 Timothy 1:5, the word modifies “faith”—the kind of faith that characterizes faithful believers in Jesus: “I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also” (2 Timothy 1:5).