Genuine Love requires “brotherly affection”
“Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.” (Romans 12:9-10 ESV)
As we seek to understand what real love looks like, we have to be continually looking back to the love of God as its source and pattern.
Have you ever really thought about the emotion of God’s love, or do you mainly focus on the action? I can remember growing up, hearing many times something like “love is not a feeling, it’s an act of the will”. If this is our view of the love of God, we have the wrong picture. For certain, true love involves the decision of the will to act for the good of the person loved, but it is also an emotion. Anything less than “brotherly affection” fails the test of genuine love.
When Jesus was baptized by John, the Father spoke from heaven saying, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” (Matt 3:17). The Father loves the Son with pleasure and delight. In John 15:9, Jesus says, “As the Father has loved me so I have loved you”.
Let that soak in for a moment. The same love and joy and pleasure which the Father has had in the Son from all eternity is now the love that he has for you. Do you picture God the Father gritting his teeth and setting his will to “love” the Son in spite of emotional misgivings? Of course not. In the same way, we are called to have the genuine affection of a family for one another in the Church. It is not just putting up with each other, but a heartfelt love for the people of God. Remember, love (real love) is a product of the Spirit of God in his people. If you find yourself trying to grit your teeth and bear one of your brothers or sisters in Christ: First, repent of your lack of genuine love. Second, don’t wallow, but apply the forgiveness purchased for you at the cross. Third, pray that God would produce in you what only He can – a genuine love for his people brimming with “brotherly affection”.