A Sincere Love


She wore a blue peasant skirt. Her long, brown hair spilled over her knees as she sat on the ground with her body curled close, her head buried in her lap. I could barely read the cardboard sign that sat beside her.

As my car idled and the red light stared on, I looked away.

Instantly, the Lord prodded my heart. “Look at her,” He said. “Give her some of what you have. Give her yourself. Give her Me.”

When she looked up and saw my outstretched hand, her faded smile bore discouraged desperation.

In that moment, the Holy Spirit moved powerfully in me.

I did not feel the guilt of being unable to fix all of her problems.

I did not feel abiding resentment towards her need.

I felt the sincere love of a God who knew why she was there and what He had asked of me.

And I knew the true meaning of Romans 12:9: “Love must be sincere.”

Authenticity has become a spiritual buzz word these days — and still one I cherish to the core of who I am — but to be truly authentic, I must wholeheartedly submit to the crucifixion of my own deception. Far too often I’ve given out of guilt and called it compassion. Far too often I’ve listened to the pain of another out of pity and called it love.

Mulling over these thoughts and still thinking about the woman in the peasant skirt, I headed towards our neighborhood grocery store. I spotted a man sitting on the corner with a cardboard sign nearby. He was holding his head in his hands.

Again, the Lord nudged my heart and whispered the word, “Dignity.”

“Go to him,” He said. “Give him the rest of what you have. Give him yourself. Give him Me.”

As I parked my car, I noticed a father and his young son nearby. They got out of the car holding a bag of food. Instantly, I knew they were believers sent to bless and to be blessed. Silently and together, we went.

I watched the weathered man’s face crinkle into a smile when he took the bag from the little boy. Then it was my turn. The love of Christ poured out of my eyes and out of my hands as I clasped his.

“God bless you,” he said gently.

“He has,” I said. “Through you. Thank you.”

I meant every word.

Funny how two parallel worlds can appear as one to others and even to myself, but not to the God who loves me and sifts my heart. For love to be sincere, it must held under the microscope of His truth, examining and separating action from motive until both are truly are His.

I drove away grateful. Grateful for the woman in the peasant skirt. Grateful for the man with the weathered face. Grateful for a God who would not allow my pride to masquerade as compassion. Grateful that He is the very definition of sincere love.

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Julie Neils is passionate about living a real life in a fabricated world. Digging beneath the surface in her relationship with God and with others is the thing that gets her up out of bed. That and fussy little ones. And a big ol’ cup of coffee. As a media relations and branding consultant, she has spent more than fifteen years advising ministry leaders, policy makers and authors on relevant, out-of-the-box communications strategies. She and her husband, Brian, live in the Rocky Mountains where she homeschools their five kiddos.

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A Sincere Love

by Julie Neils time to read: 2 min