by Kathleen Petersen

Love in the Kingdom of God needs to be without hypocrisy, meaning without a disguise, sincere. The junk of our selfish expectations must be cleared away.

Early in life we learn what we need to do to get what we want. Sometimes it involves manipulation using what looks like self-sacrifice, even in “innocent” children. Left unexamined, that pursuit can really mess up close relationships.

The list below comes from Romans 12:9-16. I’ve cherry-picked the passage for those actions that require self-sacrifice without a hidden agenda of benefiting ourselves.

Love must be without hypocrisy.

  • Be devoted to one another with mutual love,
  • Show eagerness in honoring one another.
  • Contribute to the needs of the saints and pursue hospitality.
  • Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.
  • Rejoice with those who rejoice,
  • Weep with those who weep.
  • Live in harmony with one another.
  • Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly.
  • Do not be conceited.

from Romans 12:9-16 NET

In developing the above Love List, the Apostle Paul acted much like a Master Gardener in laying out the things we must get rid of and the things we must acquire in order to replace or amend the soils of our sad-looking, self-seeking gardens. 

God’s invitation to cultivate these self-sacrificial attitudes and actions is not an ordinary to-do list. The elements on this list involve adventurous, challenging, creative work with built in rewards that spill over into and influence many lives with the Love of Christ. 

The most important reward, though, is developing a heart like God’s heart. We can fall into the trap of just “being nice” without developing God’s depth of mind and heart as we practice these habits. 

Please re-read the above list and pick one or two self-sacrificial acts that you want to explore more fully. Dialogue with your Heavenly Father today about specific ways he wants you to cultivate those areas.

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