“Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good.” Romans 12:9

The Apostle John said, “He that loves not, knows not God.” We can say that we love God and others, but talk is cheap. How can we know for certain whether our love is real?

How do you KNOW whether your love for others (or even your love for God) is real or not? It is actually not difficult to “pretend to love” someone outwardly while inwardly not caring for them at all. I guess that’s why “true love” is what many teens are looking for.

Paul says we can recognize “true love” by the way we hate evil and cling to good.

Love requires a deep passion for the truth—knowing it, embracing it, obeying it, and promoting it. Just as God hates evil and loves good, so those who know Him will love (and hate) the same things He does.

When Paul urged the young Roman Christians to love “without hypocrisy,” what was he saying? “Let your love be genuine. Sincere. From your heart. No pretending—really love—don’t fake it.”

Originally the Greek word translated “without hypocrisy” (anupókritos) meant “inexperienced in the art of acting.” It came to mean someone who, in contrast to an actor, is without hypocrisy or pretense, genuine, and sincere.

God does not want to populate heaven with a bunch of empty-headed puppets or well-programmed robots. Both can “act” as they are programmed or controlled by others, but neither can truly love. God desires to be surrounded by people who love what He loves—from their hearts.

So how do we know if we truly love others and God as we should? True believers find themselves loving whatever the Scripture says is true and good, while hating everything that is false and evil (Philippians 4:8).

Even the Old Testament reminds us of real love by stating that those who “love the Lord, hate evil!” (Psalm 97:10). Jesus reiterated this Old Testament truth in a New Testament way when He inspired Mark to write, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30–31).

Jesus showed us what this kind of love looks like with His own life.

1. Do I sincerely love God with all my heart? Like Jesus, we should hate any other lovers—any false beliefs or desires that compete for first place in our hearts, Luke 14:26. We should willfully determine to love the Father and obey His Word above all else, Hebrews 10:7.

2. Do I sincerely love God with all my soul? This includes the emotional side of our love. Christ displayed this intense love at the Garden of Gethsemane, when He experienced deep grief at the prospect of taking the world’s sins upon Himself (Luke 22:42–44).

3. Do I sincerely love God with all my mind? What we allow to consume and control our thoughts shows what we truly care about. Jesus was consumed with following God’s will, as revealed in John 15:10. What do you think about the most?

4. Do I sincerely love God with all my strength? Are my youthful energies being drained to satisfy my own comforts and desires rather than God’s cause? Jesus went to His death pursuing one primary goal—“to bear witness to the truth,” John 18:37.

God tells us how to love Him with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength. Hate what God hates and love what God loves. Is your love for God real?

Rand Hummel has more than 20 years of experience in Christian camp ministry and is now the Director of THE WILDS of New England. Rand has written several Bible helps for adults and teens. Rand holds a B.A. in Bible from Bob Jones University, in Greenville, South Carolina.

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