Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. It is a season full of red hearts and pink ribbon, sappy cards and chocolate kisses, red roses and sparkling diamonds. We offer these gifts as tokens of our affection, but does our love have the depth and breadth it should?
Love must be sincere…
Romans 12:9a – NIV
The soft blue velvet held a tiny oval stone. The jeweler was explaining the qualities of this gem, but I could barely hear him. I was too fascinated by the sparkle. A diamond, a precious diamond to wear on my finger, the genuine article, the real thing.
It would be months before I would see the stone again. We had picked out the setting, but I didn’t see the finished product. That must wait for the right time when Eric would pop the question, the question that I longed for him to ask.
The diamond is a symbol of promise. It is used to declare our intentions, to show that our love is genuine, to speak of a commitment that is real. It is an outward sign of our inner affection.
In Romans 12:9a, the Apostle Paul exhorts that “Love must be sincere.” Not simply referring to the affectations of romantic love, Paul emphasizes that our love for one another must be genuine. It must be real. Forget the glitter. Skip the bling. Just dig deep and love with a sincere heart.
What does sincere love look like? Paul describes it fully in 1 Corinthians 13. It’s patient and kind, not arrogant or proud. It’s forgiving and encouraging. It’s enduring and unwavering. It’s deep and abiding. It’s a choice not a feeling.
In a me-oriented world that constantly clamors for instant gratification, the concept of true love is watered down, glossed over, easily dismissed. Too often, it is a cheap imitation that leaves broken hearts and broken homes in its wake.
Perhaps the key to finding a love that lasts, a love that is genuine and sincere lies in Paul’s admonition in Romans 12:10, “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.” Paul speaks of devotion, faithfulness, humility, honor and integrity. He beckons us to think more about the needs of others and less about our own desires. We are called to serve one another, lifting each other up instead of dragging each other down.
In our quest to find true love, we already have the perfect example, that of Jesus Christ. He humbled himself to save us. He laid down His life so we might have a life beyond these earthly bonds. Humility, devotion, honor, integrity, faithfulness, those are the attributes of Jesus’ love for us. When we approach our relationships with those same attributes, the love that flows out is genuine, sincere, beautifully real.
All those years ago, when Eric put that ring on my finger, the diamond sparkled in the light, dazzling me with its beauty. Yet, the real beauty was the sparkle I saw in his eyes. It told me all I needed to know.
More than 40 years later, I still wear that ring. Although my limited vision keeps me from seeing its sparkle, it doesn’t matter. The sparkle that really matters is still there, in the tone of Eric’s voice and the tender way he takes my hand in his. It tells me all I need to know.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 – NIV
O God of Perfect Love, thank You for Your great love for us. May we learn to love as You do, honoring others above ourselves. Let us be devoted to one another in love, and thereby, honor You.