“Let Love Be Without Hypocrisy…” (Romans 12:9)
“Let love be without hypocrisy” (Rom. 12:9). Actually, this kind of love and hypocrisy are polar opposites. If we posses this kind of love there is only one way to posses it, that is genuinely.
First consider, “Let love….” This kind of love is also called a “grace love.” It is love that gives what is needed, not what is deserved. It is a love of value; a love of esteem; a love that treasures. It is a love that makes us most like God. The Lord said of this love, “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust (Matt. 5:44-45). God’s love is not just for His friends or those who reciprocate. It was this love that moved Him to give His only Son while we were enemies (Rom.5:8). When we do good, speak well of and pray for our enemies we are acting like God did toward those who were His enemies. He caused the sun to shine and rain to fall on good and evil. He caused the rain to fall and sun to shine on us while we were at one time His enemies. He did all He could to do us good.
Further, this love has two characteristics. One, this love is proven by action. “For God so loved the world that He gave…” (John. 3:16). The second, this love is measured by sacrifice: “For God so loved the world He gave His only begotten son….” (John. 3:16). God proved His love and measured it by sacrifice. A very practical illustration is seen in 1 John. 3:16-18: “By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.” How can I say to my brother, “I love you,” if when I see him in need I walk away without helping him? I can tell him, “I love you” all day long, but not until I prove it by action and measure it by sacrifice have I demonstrated the love God has for me.
Therefore, when I am like God I am genuine in my character and my action. Eugene Peterson says it like this, “Love from the center of who you are…” When at my very core I am striving to be like God then what I do and how I do it will be real. That is why Paul says, “Let love be without hypocrisy.”
So, consider, “Let love be without hypocrisy…” Hypocrisy means one who answers back. It described actors in ancient times because they used special devices to enhance their voices. They spoke behind a mask. The idea of a hypocrite evolved from playing a part and speaking the dialogue that belongs to that part. It is the opposite of being genuine and sincere. Hypocrisy addresses the thing that is done behind the mask, so that the mask and the face behind it are different. However, the things covered will be revealed. The secret things said in the closet are not really a secret. They are all going to be accounted for. Hypocrisy is dangerous.
Additionally, the hypocrite’s crime is that he bears false witness against himself. Hypocrisy is the vice of vices. Integrity can exist under the cover of all vices except this one. “Only crime and the criminal, it is true, confront us with the perplexity of radical evil; but only the hypocrite is really rotten to the core” (Hannah Arendt). The reason this is true is because the hypocrite deceives himself. He may deceive someone else by his grand importance, but the root tragedy is he deceives himself. The murderer knows he is a sinner. The adulterer knows he is a sinner. The hypocrite, no matter what ugly thing he does, he does not see himself as a sinner. He fools himself. He has such a convincing act that he believes his own lie. This deception is a grave danger.
Consider, in Matthew 23 Jesus condemns the Pharisees for their hypocrisy. They knew the law but they were not sincere in their works. They had ulterior motives. They were more concerned with what men would say about them than keeping the law and doing good things. They were simply out to impress people (Matt. 23:6-7). Jesus’ strong rebuke against hypocrisy reveals its fruits. Hypocrisy prevents converts from coming into the kingdom of God. They corrupt the character of converts. They ignore the law, and they are full of all kinds of evil, never even noticing (Matt. 23:13-15). Hypocrisy is the kind of leaven that destroys righteous living. This kind of hypocrisy destroys alms giving (Mat 6:2). Hypocrisy destroys judgment (Matt. 7:5). The hypocrite seeks to pick out a little things from somebody else’s eye but has a log in his own eye. Hypocrisy destroys judgment about self. A person cannot do well or correct his own sin because of hypocrisy. He doesn’t see it. He can’t help anyone else, and he cannot help himself. Sin is in the way. There is no way to do good.
Therefore, Christianity will not grow in a heart filled with hypocrisy. So what is the remedy? “Let love be without hypocrisy.” Further, just reverse the evil fruits. First, let the will of God rule freely in your heart. Second, pure religion is helping the fatherless and widows. You can’t be a hypocrite and give freely of yourself to widows and orphans (Jas. 1:27). Prayer with a sincere heart will help us see our own needs and the needs of others. Third, help others see the good news of the gospel. Lead them to Christ not self. Fourth, recognize that even the small things are important while practicing justice: fair judgment, mercy, compassion, faith, and trust in our Lord. These are weighty. Fifth, we ought to pay attention to our outward man but recognize that who we are outwardly is a picture of who we are inwardly. We will never be more outwardly than who we are inwardly. The life of one is seen in the other. Sixth, sincerity will be seen by how we treat others, especially those who bring us the gospel.
Christians ought to be warm and share strong kindred feelings toward one-another. We do that with the tenderness which characterizes the most endearing relationship, like that of a family. We accomplish that by manifesting respect or honor toward each other, not seeking it. We set the example of showing mutual respect and honor. We take the lead in giving recognition. We do not obtain the honor, rather we confer it on one another. We are diligent about it. This is certainly different from the spirit of the world. The world says, “Seek honor, get all you can, step on whoever you have to get it.”
We do that because we want to be sincere, genuine in our pursuit to be God-like. There is no other choice for us.
Let us do all we can to bring others to Christ. Let us do all we can to be like Christ. Let us do all we can to love without hypocrisy.
We must pay attention to our heart. We must try hard to see ourselves as God sees us. That is how a Christian and Christianity grows. That is how we “love without hypocrisy.”
by Rickie Jenkins