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In his letter to the church at Rome, Paul’s instruction for community life begins with “Let love be without hypocrisy… (Romans 12:9a).” All that follows is built on this foundation, from the twelve additional short commands (through v. 13) to the end of the epistle.

The breadth and depth of this command presents more of a challenge than one might experience in a cursory reading. Indeed, these may be the five most challenging words in the Bible.

With all due respect to Bible reading plans, the Scriptures contain matters of truth that simply do not fit earthbound self-imposed schedules. “Let love be without hypocrisy…” is one of those truths that should blow up our reading plans. We will spiritually injure ourselves (with collateral damage to those we love) if we diligently press on to the next verse (or, in this case, phrase).

We need to sit here for a while. Our Father in heaven is bringing many sons to glory (Hebrews 2:10). We participate with Him when we invest the necessary time to search out the truths He has hidden for His children.

It is the glory of God to conceal a matter,
But the glory of kings is to search out a matter.
Proverbs 25:2

Let’s begin with a couple of definitions. First, as we have considered previously, God’s love (agapē) is more than “unconditional” (as so many teachers have popularized). In fact, it is not unconditional at all. God’s love is something more; it is better described as sacrificial. God so loved the world that He sacrificed His son, that those who believe (a condition) might be saved (John 3:16). We manifest God’s love when we sacrifice for others.

“Without hypocrisy” comes from the Greek, anypokritos. Blue Letter Bible’s Outline of Biblical Usage defines anypokritos as “unfeigned, undisguised, sincere.” Synonyms (from Oxford Dictionaries) include genuine, true, honest, authentic, unforced, wholehearted, deep, transparent, palpable, and audacious. Consider each of these and you will understand why I am stuck on “let love be without hypocrisy.” If we cannot get this right, how can we move on to the rest?

Searching further, we find John encouraging and describing our sincere love. Read the rest of this entry »

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