“Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection.” (Romans 12:9–10, ESV)
Have you ever met pretentious people? I am sure you have. Merriam Webster’s characterizes pretentious as, “making usually unjustified or excessive claims.” One who is pretentious wants to exalt himself by putting on an act. In Romans 12:9, Paul wrote, “Let love be genuine.” The word translated, genuine, seems to come from two words meaning, not-pretending. Genuine love is without pretense.
How then do we love without pretense? First, every believer must understand that you have this capacity to extend genuine love. How do we know this? It is because this love is in you by the presence of the Holy Spirit. Earlier in Romans Paul indicated, “You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.” (Romans 8:9, ESV) If you are a believer in Christ, you have His Spirit in you. Thus, you have Christ’s love in you. The issue is not one of having the love of God in your heart, it is one of letting it out. Remember that the fruit of the Spirit is among other things, love.
You might say well, it is impossible to love some people. Yes, humanly speaking that is true. However, it is not true from a divine perspective. Paul also stated, “God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8, KJV 1900) We were ugly and unlovable because of sin, yet God extended his love to us even then. Since His Spirit dwells in us, we have this same love in us.
We are to love others the same way Christ loved us. John wrote, “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.” (1 John 3:16, KJV 1900) To love others, we need to lay down our own wants and desires for their benefit. Paul includes some of the ways love would be manifested in verses 11-21, and in 1 Corinthians 13. This capacity is present in us, we just need to let the light of Christ’s love out.
Did you know that you cannot love someone and hate them at the same time? Moreover, there is no middle ground. If love is genuine, you will not hate and if you hate there is no genuine love. So, what keeps this love from being expressed to others? In a simple word, the flesh. It is a matter of who is in control. If your flesh is in control, you will struggle to love, especially the unlovable. However, if the Spirit is in control you will not gratify the desires of the flesh (Gal 5:16).
Thus, examine the quality of your love. If it is not there, speak to the Lord about it in prayer, confessing your fleshly desires that are interfering, repenting from them, and renew your commitment to live for Him.