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What is unfeigned love?


unfeigned love
Question: "What is unfeigned love?"

Answer:
The term unfeigned love appears a few times in the Bible, specifically in Romans 12:9, 2 Corinthians 6:6, and 1 Peter 1:22, among other places. To feign is to pretend or give a false appearance; thus, unfeigned love is genuine and sincere love, as opposed to feigned love, which is fake and shallow.

Romans 12:9 exhorts believers to “let love be genuine” (ESV). The same command in the NKJV, NASB, and CSB is rendered “let love be without hypocrisy.” This is unfeigned love. It’s a straightforward command, but practicing it gets a little complicated. True, unfeigned love is more than a smile plastered on a face on Sunday mornings that disappears as soon as the handshake ends. It is more than saying nice things and wishing people well. Unfeigned love results in action.

Unfeigned love comes from a true desire to help others. It includes loyalty and does not seek its own honor. Love does not hesitate to help, and it boils over from a spirit close to God. Unfeigned love is not jealous but rejoices with others. It is encouraging, it gives without seeking gain, and it shows hospitality (Romans 12:9–13).

In 2 Corinthians 6:6, genuine love is one of the ways in which the servants of God commend themselves. Paul and those who worked with him had genuine, unfeigned love for the people of God. Yet, he says, “We are treated as impostors” (2 Corinthians 6:8). Basically, Paul had to defend himself and his fellow servants against accusations that they were insincere in their ministry. To counter those claims, he reminded them of his demeanor toward them: “We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians, and opened wide our hearts to you. We are not withholding our affection from you” (verses 11–12). His love had substance; it was not empty, and the Corinthians knew it. They were encouraged to “open wide your hearts also” (verse 13).

Peter links unfeigned, sincere love to purifying oneself and “obeying the truth” (1 Peter 1:22). He then gives a reason to show unfeigned love: “For you have been born again” (verse 23). We should sincerely love one another because Jesus saved us.

Jesus first loved us (1 John 4:19), and His love was unfeigned. He held nothing back; He died for us. Our love for fellow Christians should be just as unfeigned. In fact, sincere, unfeigned love is the identifying mark of a true Christian. Jesus said, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35). Our relationship to each other comes down to one command: love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:39). If we can do this without hypocrisy—without feigning—then we are showing the world how Christ, the source of unfeigned love, loves us.

Recommended Resource: The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God by D.A. Carson

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