Two thoughts came immediately to mind when I read this text: why does it stop at verse 16? And, this text has far too much in it. To the first point: this text runs naturally from verse 9 through 21; it really should be taken as a whole. To the second point: there is a book, let alone a sermon or a short devotion in almost every phrase. Where does one start?
How about at the beginning? “Let love be genuine.” But what is genuine love? You know how when someone wins the lotto and suddenly everyone is their friend? That’s not genuine love. Love that tries to get something out of another is not genuine. Neither is love that is self-serving or manipulative, or love that abandons one’s friends in time of danger or need.
Genuine loves takes as its exemplar, Jesus. Jesus’ love embraced not only his disciples, but led him to forgive those who nailed him to the cross.
Genuine love is not easy love, but as Paul would write, it is the fruit of God’s Holy Spirit. So strong is genuine love that it bears, believes, hopes and endures all things; and it never ends. (1 Corinthians 13:7) Genuine love is what Jesus calls us to have for others.
Holy Spirit, fill me with your gift of genuine love. Amen. — DAB