by Shauna Gallagher
Have you ever been sure you have read a Bible verse many times in your life, but when you actually take notice of it for the first time, you wonder how on earth you hadn’t focused on it before?
I recently had one of those moments. Perhaps it was because it was read in a different version to my previous reading of it, but man oh man, did it hit me like a tonne of bricks!
The verse I am talking about is Romans 12:9. I will put it here in the version that it really hit me, but I encourage you to look at it in a few different versions, just to see how powerful it is to read a few versions. Here it is in the New Living Translation:
“Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them.
Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good”.
It’s the first two short sentences that really challenged me. When I am trying to show love to others, am I just pretending? Am I really loving them?
I’m someone who tries hard to show love to others. One of my biggest peeves is someone being left out, particularly in Christian circles. In all honesty, it has been something that makes me quite angry when Christians don’t include others.
However, what hit me the most about this verse, is that even though I try hard to show love and include others, perhaps I am just ‘pretending’. Do I really love them? Am I just doing what I need to do in order to make others feel included, or do I really want to get to know them and love them?
Unfortunately, I think there are times that I am going about ‘loving’ others in a dutiful manner. I mean, I am an extrovert and just love being around people, making new friends, and making others feel welcomed, but it’s not always done to the level I believe Romans 12:9 is talking about.
I’m sure I have more love for some people compared to others, even new people I meet. I am human and not immune from the usual caution that plays out when someone perhaps doesn’t meet my expectations. If someone seems a little ‘different’, I am very nice to them and inclusive, but I don’t think I really love them the way God intends.
So what would it mean for me to really love others? This is something I am still pondering, but I know it will definitely include actually getting to know someone at a deeper level, even if I think they are a bit different to me.
Everyone needs friends, and by putting yourself out there and really loving others, you just might happen to find the most loving, compassionate and loyal friend that you have ever met.
Shauna is a Mental Health Nurse, author and speaker. She is very passionate about improving mental health through a Christian world view. Combining her career with her faith has helped Shauna to draw closer to God through seeing how intricately and beautifully He has designed our bodies. Shauna and her husband, John, have four adult children and four gorgeous grandchildren. They minister at a church on the Sunshine Coast and are passionate about sharing God's love with their local community.
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