Have you ever heard the words “I love you” from someone you really believed to be your friend, only to find out later that this same person talked behind your back, gossiped about you, and didn’t treat you the way a real friend would? If you confronted that person about his actions, did he admit what he did and apologize for it? Or did he lie and try to cover up his deeds, even though you already knew the facts? Did it deeply disturb you to see him put on a fake face and pretend that he was your best friend and that none of the allegations were true, even though you knew he was lying?
If you have ever experienced a situation like this, you know how very hurtful it is when a “so-called” friend behaves this way. It shows a level of hypocrisy that is deeply disturbing. This type of behavior should never occur among believers, but unfortunately it does from time to time. To make sure you never fall into this kind of hypocrisy, the apostle Paul wrote and told you, “Let love be without dissimulation….”
Before we get to the word “dissimulation,” which is our primary theme today, we must first look at the word “love.” It is the Greek word agape, a word that describes the highest, finest, and most noble kind of love. In the New Testament, it is the single word that is used to describe the love of God. As noted earlier (see July 23), the word agape is so filled with deep emotion and meaning that it is one of the most difficult words to translate in the New Testament.
Agape occurs when an individual sees, recognizes, understands, or appreciates the value of an object or a person, causing the viewer to behold this object or person in great esteem, awe, admiration, wonder, and sincere appreciation. Such great respect is awakened in the heart of the observer for the object or person he is beholding that he is compelled to love it. In fact, his love for that person or object is so strong that it is irresistible.
In the New Testament, perhaps the best example of agape is found in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” In the phrase, “For God so loved the world,” the word “love” is the word agape.
The human race was so precious to God and He loved man so deeply that His heart was stirred to reach out and do something to save him. In other words, God’s love drove Him to action. You see, agape loves so profoundly that it knows no limits or boundaries in how far, wide, high, and deep it will go to show that love to its recipient. If necessary, agape love will even sacrifice itself for the sake of that object or person it so deeply cherishes. You can see from this description why agape is the highest, finest, and most noble form of love.
This is precisely the kind of love that should exist between believers. For instance, the apostle John wrote, “My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth” (1 John 3:18). The word “love” in this verse is the word agape. The apostle John makes it very clear that real agape love is not merely a matter of speaking easy and empty words; rather, agape is accompanied by actions that are truthful. It is simply hypocritical to claim to possess such love while at the same time engaging in unfaithful behavior such as backbiting and gossiping. Agape would never behave in such a manner; rather, it is forgiving and helpful, willing even to sacrifice itself for the sake of someone else.
This is why Paul wrote, “Let love be without dissimulation….” The King James Version uses the old word “dissimulation,” but the Greek word is anupokritos, and it describes something that is pretended, simulated, faked, feigned, or phony. It pictures a person who deliberately gives a certain impression, even though he knows the impression he is giving is untrue. In other words, this person is a phony.
So when the apostle Paul tells us to walk in love that is without dissimulation, he means this:
“If you are going to say you love someone, then make sure you really love them. Don’t give an impression that isn’t true. Don’t say one thing and then do another. Your love should be without hypocrisy, so don’t be phony when it comes to the subject of love.”
Now let me ask you this question: Have you ever been two-faced with people who thought you were their friend? Did you say one thing to them but later talk behind their backs? Did you do exactly the same thing that someone else is doing to you right now? Is it possible that you are reaping what you have sown?
Instead of getting bitter and hardhearted toward someone who has acted hypocritically in his friendship with you, learn from this experience. Make a decision that you will not be phony or hypocritical in your relationships the way this person was to you.
Meanwhile, make sure you forgive those who have wronged you. Let it go, and do your best to overlook their inconsistencies. The Lord will probably deal with them about their actions, so if they come to you in repentance, let them know they are forgiven. But most importantly, let this be a time when you decide that you will not be guilty of giving a false impression to a friend. Let your love be real. Don’t be a phony.
MY PRAYER FOR TODAY
Lord, I ask You to please forgive me for the times I’ve been an unfaithful friend. I know there have been times in my life when I gossiped and talked about people who were supposed to be my close friends. And I didn’t stop there. Rather than confess what I did and ask for forgiveness, I tried to cover it up by acting like I hadn’t done anything wrong. I am so sorry for what I have done. Please forgive me for lying. Please forgive me for being a phony in my relationships. I don’t ever want to do this again, so I ask You to help me walk in truthfulness, integrity, and in genuine agape love.
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY
I confess that I walk in the agape love of God. I am a sincere, truthful, and dedicated friend. When I say that I love, I genuinely love. I don’t talk behind people’s backs. I don’t gossip. I don’t betray the friends God has brought into my life. If I do accidentally say something that is out of order, I quickly go to my friend to confess it and to ask for forgiveness. This truthfulness causes my friends to trust me and to know that I am truly a friend indeed.
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER
- Can you recall a time in your life when a friend was dishonest with you? How did it affect you when you discovered that this person had been two-faced?
- Have you ever violated a relationship by being untruthful or by talking behind the back of another person? Who is that person? What do you think the Lord would have you to do to make things right in that relationship?
- What has Jesus taught you through that past experience of violating a friendship? Why don’t you get a notepad and write down the things you have learned from this experience that might later help a friend who is facing the same situation?