Thursday, October 29, 2015

"There Ain't Nothin' Like the Real Thing, Baby!"

"Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently." (1 Peter 1:22)

It's true; “There ain't nothin' like the real thing.” Especially when it comes to love. Peter calls it "unfeigned [genuine] love. He is warning us against love that is unreal and pretentious. We Christians are too prone to throw out platitudes of love as one might throw pennies into a fountain, and with about as much cost. But when "push comes to shove," (as true love eventually does) we soon find out whether or not it's the real thing. As Peter tells us in this revealing verse, a sure sign of a pure soul who loves and obeys the truth is fervent, "unfeigned love of the brethren...with a pure heart."

The passage in 1 Corinthians thirteen that speaks so eloquently of love is very often cited as a standard for married love, yet these same principles can (and should) apply to our spiritual siblings in the family of God. Unselfish love is every bit as admirable in a friendship as it is in a marriage. I think this is best seen when the relationship is unequal in one way or another. It’s easy to love a brother or sister in Christ who is amiable and strong in character, but unfeigned love is capable of genuine affection for one who is boring, negligent, or weak. We like to boast, "Oh, I love all God's children!" but I think the little verse I once saw may be closer to the truth:

To live above with saints we love
will certainly be glory;
To live below with saints we know —
well, that's a different story!

I’m convinced that love is an art—a Divine art, if you please—that takes great discernment and patience. Most everything else in the Christian life is easy, compared to it. I met a lady once who informed me that she was seeking the gift of tongues; and immediately the thought came, "Lord, I'd rather have the gift of love." I’d sooner speak a plain word of love and kindness than ten thousand in an "unknown tongue."

Why short-change our brothers and sisters in Christ (or ourselves, for that matter) with mediocre, dime store love? Why not deal in the top-of-the-line, unfeigned kind? Because, like I say, "There ain't nothin' like the real thing, Baby!"

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