My favourite restaurant in one of the places we lived was in a run-down area, with poor surroundings. However, on entering the door of the restaurant I was taken into another world. Flowers were everywhere – the reception area, the dining room, the cloakroom and they even lined the stairs. There were so many flowers, so fresh looking, that initially I thought they must be artificial. But they were fresh flowers – their fragrance proved they were genuine.
Occasionally something artificial may pass for the genuine article. True love, however, is known by its actions. The highest standard in the world has been set before believers – to be imitators of God – to imitate God’s love and God’s forgiveness.
The sacrifice of Jesus on the cross for each one of us was a demonstration of the love of God with the offer of forgiveness. The death of Jesus was pleasing to God. In the Old Testament it is described as a “Pleasing aroma.” Genuine love and a forgiving spirit cannot be separated. Without a forgiving spirit our love is not genuine however many words may be attached to it.
We are told to live a life of love just as Christ loved us. We are to express our love one to the other in the sacrificial way Jesus expressed His love for us. ‘Love must be sincere’ (Romans 12:9). The emphasis is completely sincere – no hypocrisy, play acting, ulterior motive or keeping a record of wrong. The depth of forgiveness to others is the bottom line of genuine love.
Of course, not one of us has within ourselves the capacity to imitate God’s love or His forgiveness. True love is a gift from God. It is poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us (Romans 5:5). Thus our lives can become a reflection of genuine love and unconditional forgiveness.
Our love for others becomes genuine when our lives are lived out of the experience of the love we ourselves have received from God. I can only truly love out of my experience of being unconditionally loved by God and loving Him from a heart overflowing with gratitude.
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