9-10Love from the center of who you are; don't fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle.
It is so easy sometimes to just "fake it" when it comes to loving other people. We make everything "look good" on the outside, but on the inside we are really just not all that into it! Loving others is a LOT of work! I don't think God challenges us to do anything more difficult than to love unconditionally, just as he loves us. We almost always have "strings attached" when it comes to demonstrating our love to another human being.
If you don't believe that, then let me ask you if you have ever felt a little bit slighted when a courtesy you have extended to another has been overlooked when you have needed that same courtesy extended in your life? Maybe someone overlooked an important date in your life, or perhaps they did not pick up on a hint that you'd really like to have them take a small burden off of your pile of things to do. When that was overlooked, how did it make you feel? Most of us would honestly admit that we felt like we were "let down".
Paul's words are more than challenging - they are downright impossible in the natural sense. As much as we try, we cannot love unconditionally - it is not humanly possible. It takes a transformation of heart - that which is only available in Christ Jesus - to actually "remove the strings" that are attached to our actions of love. It also takes an exchange of our will - we may not "feel" like another is deserving of our love because of their actions (or lack of actions), but Christ commands us to love them anyway!
What Paul describes here is the willingness to "play second fiddle". In a large orchestra, the man or woman assigned to the position of "first fiddle" has a huge role as the lead violinist. There are perhaps 10-50 other violinists in the orchestra, but not more than one "lead". "Second fiddle" violinists have the unique role of supporting the lead - they "back up" the lead with all the other parts that need to be played in the piece being performed.
So it is with us when we are being asked to be content playing "second fiddle". We are to perfectly complement the talents, abilities, and inadequacies of others without envy, malice, or indifference. In this way, we are displaying the love of Christ to them. Love from the core of who we are - at the point of new birth (when we ask Christ to be the center of all we are) - there is an exchange of heart. The "core of all we are" is now Christ. When we are asked to love from the core - we are asked to love from the life of Christ that dwells within us. We may not feel like it (because our emotions have not caught up with our "exchanged heart" yet), but we are to do it anyway.
In such a display of love, we are being good friends to those in our circle of influence. Later in this same chapter, Paul reminds us to discover beauty in everyone. We may have to look deep to see beauty in some individuals - just because they are always rubbing us the wrong way, but it is there if we look deep enough. When we begin to ask God to train our eyes to take in the beauty INSTEAD of the things that are offensive in the other person, we often can begin to see small character traits in another that we missed before. It changes our perspective of how we see another.
Love is a thing of discovery - first we have to discover how God loves us - then we have to discover how to display that love to others God brings across our path. Whose life have you been asked to "discover" love in today? To discover is to notice - ask God to give you eyes to notice the beauty in another over the offensive behavior or words they may display on the surface. In this way, you are beginning to love as Christ loves us.