“Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.” Romans 12:9 (KJV)
Love – what is it and how do we show it to others? We all know that 1 Corinthians 13 is the ultimate definition of love. “Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails;” (NAS)
The Greek word for love in Romans 12:9 is “agape.” This is not only a selfless love, but it is a pursuing love—a love that empathizes with others and desires the best for them. It is a giving love that has no motive of self-interest. When people see such genuine love, they know it is real and they trust the words and actions of the love-giver. Love is all encompassing while at the same time it is very specific. Love is a common word in our society, yet true, genuine love is rarely displayed.
Dissimulation (also known as hypocrisy or insincerity), on the other hand, isn’t a very common word in the English language yet it is prevalent in today’s culture. Dissimulation means the concealment of one’s thoughts, feelings, or character. Merriam-Webster defines it as “to hide under a false appearance”. So what does it mean to “love without dissimulation”? Let’s put this in the context of a friendship.
You and your friend are out on a bike ride and you see a large pothole approaching in your friend’s path…but he doesn’t. In fact, he is thoroughly engaged in telling you a story from his latest bike adventures in Ireland. You are faced with two options:
1. Being a reasonable person, you quickly come to the obvious conclusion that your friend considers himself to be an amazing and entertaining story teller and you would not want to be rude and hurt his feelings by interrupting his grand recount of his latest escapades.
2. Abruptly, and in as few words as possible, you tell your friend to move away from the approaching pothole.
What is the loving choice? Obviously the second option! Bike rides are an easy example, but what about the journey of life? Is there someone you know who needs to hear you speak the truth in love? (Eph. 4:15) Many people conceal their true feelings about evil “because I really love them and don’t want to hurt their feelings.” If looked at honestly, it is impossible to truly love someone with God’s kind of love without hating anything that comes against that person. Paul is still talking about love when he says “Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.” Part of true love is hatred. If we don’t hate the things that oppose the one we love, then it is not God’s kind of love. There is a righteous type of anger. Eph. 4:26 “Be ye angry, and sin not;” Going back to our example – Let’s face it, when was the last time you heard someone say they loved bike riding with potholes on the path!
It should be noted that the verse says “Let love be without dissimulation (hypocrisy)…” Love must come first! Going around being “transparent and non-hypocritical” and expressing personal “insights” on the dangers of evil, without a foundation of love, is a sure way to turn people off. Paul is simply saying let the Christ in us be manifested through us by our attitudes, words, and actions. We cannot do this in our own strength, but as we cling to Jesus by abiding in Him and His Words, the Holy Spirit renews our mind and heart so that we live and love “without dissimulation.”
Will this be easy? No! In fact, loving without dissimulation and “speaking the truth in love” is perhaps the hardest obligation to fulfill because it puts us in a position of possible rejection and nobody wants to be rejected. However, we can’t rationalize this duty away by saying “If I say something they may reject me and I’ll never have another opportunity to speak into their life.” While that may be true, so is the opposite – if you don’t speak into that person’s life what could happen?
John 13:34-35 says: “A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if you have love one to another.”
Let us take the challenge of showing genuine love! 1 John 3:18 “My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.”
In His Love,