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3 Ways to Show Genuine Love According to Scripture

Laura Bailey

Author of Beyond the Noise
Published Jan 24, 2024
3 Ways to Show Genuine Love According to Scripture

Have you ever had a frenemy?

When you read those words, do you immediately think of the high school lunch table? Or are you picturing another mom at school drop-off? Possibly, it's your childhood best friend that you still see every day, but you never really know where your relationship stands.

Let me explain if you are one of the few fortunate people who have no clue what I mean by a frenemy. A frenemy is a person with whom we are generally friendly despite a fundamental dislike or rivalry. In an article by Forbes Magazine, a group of psychologists interviewed 29 adults, ages 19-62, to better understand what traits define a frenemy.

They discovered that frenemy relationships were often, on the surface, outwardly cordial, even friendly, but were marked by underlying negative thoughts and actions toward people who shared social connections and situational ties. They found three prominent things in these relationships: competitiveness, jealousy, and distrust.

Sadly, I would argue that many of these types of relationships are found within the church. If we are honest, it isn't just frenemies that we have issues with; there are some people who we just don't really care for.

We know that Scripture has called us to love others, so how do we show genuine love to those who just get on our nerves, push our buttons, and drive us crazy?

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Woman praying with her Bible

1. Genuine Love Starts with the Right Mindset

In Romans 12:1-2, Paul urges believers that because of the great mercy God has shown us through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we are to offer ourselves as sacrifices for His purpose. Romans is a letter to the new Christians in Rome, which comprised Jews and Gentiles. Jews and Gentiles, on paper, weren't supposed to be mixing together- so the church had some challenges getting along, being unified, and showing genuine love.

Paul's letter addresses that Jesus came to bring salvation to both Jews and Gentiles; they were all unrighteous, but God sent his son Jesus to save the world ( John 3:16). Romans 1-11 is an appeal to the new Jewish Christians to accept the Gentiles as brothers and sisters in Christ.

Because God owed us nothing yet still gave us the gift of eternal life, we should respond with gratitude and obedience. Because God's mercy gives us eternal life, we give him our lives as sacrifices for his purposes today!

We read in Romans 12:2 that we must have the right mindset to do that. That means daily renewal of our thoughts; we must transform how we think about ourselves and others. To know God's will for our lives, we must learn to love what God loves and hate what He hates. Over time, we begin to think like Christ and see people through God's eyes.

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praying hands in a pile of unity, prayers for justice

2. Genuine Love Pursues Unity

Paul goes on in Romans 12:3-4 to warn us about the pitfalls of thinking too highly of ourselves. Why? Because now that we are in Christ, we are united as one body of believers. When we have a balanced, realistic view of ourselves, seeing ourselves how God sees us, we can also see other people as God sees them—fellow image bearers.

When we remind ourselves of our equal standing before God, we can move from just "tolerating" others to seeing that we need each other. The second half of this verse reminds us that we need each other's faith, not just skills, wisdom, or perspective ( which is true), but through other people's faith, our faith is strengthened and encouraged! We don't just need each other; we belong together!

As Christians, we are meant to operate as a body or one unit. Those of us who have accepted Christ are made one with Him. Therefore, we are Christ's body on earth. The body of believers is meant to function together as one single unit. This doesn't mean we have to be all the same. He made us all different; we serve different functions and roles and are gifted with different talents and skills. We are uniquely different but have the same purpose: to Glorify God.

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Woman helping elderly man

3. Genuine Love Serves Others

We use our spiritual gifts to serve others in response to God's mercy. Paul then lists in Romans 12:5-8 the many ways God gifts us, gifts meant to serve others. If you haven't read this list, take some time to read over the many ways in which God gifts His children before moving on.

One thing to remember when reading about spiritual gifts is that Paul reminded us to be humble just a few verses prior. So it doesn't matter what gifts you have; we are all on the same team, and each has its own function, but we are working together as the body of Christ.

I have taken one of the spiritual gift assessments a few times, and perhaps you have, too. These are good starting points, but might I suggest that a better approach to discovering your gifting is to think about the needs of your church and ask God to help you meet those needs? We might even end up serving or using gifts that we didn't know we had but that the Holy Spirit equipped for a specific need.

The Holy Spirit graciously gifts His Children, but we are responsible for taking action.

God can accomplish His plan without us, but what a gift that He invites us to co-labor with Him as we serve the church body. In this selfless service, we show how the Lord has changed our lives and is actively working in our hearts.

Showing genuine love for those who drive us crazy, people we don't care for, or goodness, sometimes even the people we like, is hard work. I'll be honest: sometimes, avoiding certain people or maintaining the status quo with our frenemies is easier. But, a "grin and bear it" mentality is not what God desires for his people.

Instead, let us be people marked by a genuine love for God and His people. Our hearts desire to live a life worthy of the gospel. It is in the loving of the unloveable, unity among diversity, and selfless service that we show the world the power of Christ to redeem, reunite, and reconcile, and who wouldn't want that for their lives?

Related Articles:

How to Identify and Effectively Use Your Spiritual Gifts

3 Misconceptions about Spiritual Gifts

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Laura Bailey headshotLaura Bailey is a Bible teacher who challenges and encourages women to dive deep in the Scriptures, shift from an earthly to an eternal mindset, and filter life through the lens of God’s Word.  She is the author of Beyond the Noise, and loves any opportunity to speak and teach women of all ages. She is a wife and momma to three young girls. Connect with her on her website,  www.LauraRBailey.com, Facebook and Instagram.

Originally published Saturday, 27 January 2024.