In his book, Learning to Love, Willard Tate deals with the sensitive issue of hypocrisy. We see them all the time, people saying one thing and doing another. Unfortunately, there are times I need to look no further than the mirror in front of me to find one. I found comfort then in this quote from Dr. Paul Faulkner’s definition of this word, “Hypocrisy…is pretending to be something you never intend to become.” Let’s be honest, the exhortations to “love your enemy, do good to those who hate you” (Luke 6:27) or “pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you” (Matthew 5:44) don’t come naturally, for they fly in the face of our selfish tendencies. That is why, as Christians, we are called to give “all diligence” to the task of adding to our faith “brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love” (2nd Peter 1:5, 7). Why is learning to love so crucial to the Christian cause?
For he who lacks these things is short-sighted, even to blindness,
and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins.
2nd Peter 1:9
As I prepared for this article and lesson, my intent was not to consider the above verse, for I feared it would take away from the tone of the lesson. You see, I want us to grasp those reasons which are so critical to the health and well-being of the church and the gospel it is called to proclaim. Yet, I found myself looking back at this verse, challenged by the fact that I am compelled to learn about His love for me because of His love for me. As 1st John 4:19 says, “We love Him because He first loved us.” My ability to love rest squarely at the foot of the cross, a place I need to be if I am going to understand what it means to love others.
A new commandment I give to you, that you also love one another.
By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.
The shortest distance between two points is a straight line. We need to be an extension of God’s love, as seen by these words from Jesus. The world is going to draw a line to something. Our ability to love is the “pencil” used to draw that line. Like all of us, they can sense genuineness, and thus, in their minds, flush out hypocrisy. Maybe this is in part why Paul penned these words, “Let love be without hypocrisy…Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love” (Romans 12:9, 10). This idea of being loved and in turn, loving others, is serious business!
I suspect that you, like me, desire to be the extension of God’s love to those both in the church and the world. That task is sometimes easier said than done, primarily because I have yet to understand His love for me fully; thus, it gives reason for our continued pursuit of the understanding of His love. The more I pursue Him and His love, the better I can love all others. Lord, cleanse me from my selfish thoughts and empower me to love as You do, unconditionally. Amen!