Romans 12:9. Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.
This is definitely one of the most helpful statements on HOW to love that we have in all of scripture. To love is to hate evil. To love is to hold on to good.
Let’s go back to the beginning – Genesis. In the Garden, mankind sinned by rejecting God’s divine indwelling life offered to them in the Tree of Life. Instead they ate from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Now it was never God’s intention that we remain eternally ignorant of good and evil. Rather, he wanted us to understand good and evil through his life. His love. His freedom. Otherwise we would use our knowledge of good and evil as a replacement for his life, which is exactly what we’ve been doing ever since Adam and Eve.
But now we are in Christ. We have the divine life inside of us. We are not earning it, seeking it, achieving it, or creating it. We already have it by the Spirit of Christ. With it we have the knowledge of good and evil. Armed with this knowledge we can love genuinely.
One of the things that we struggle with the most when it comes to loving others is how to deal with the evil (big or small) of others. Their sinfulness. Their harmful actions. But real genuine love is discerning. It learns to identify the dangerous attitudes and behaviors of the heart. And it can identify goodness and purity. Love can tell the difference. Love isn’t blind. Love’s eyes are wide open. And love opens the eyes of others.
Love that falls short of agape love will often distort good and evil. Love that is primarily selfish (it makes us feel good) will make excuses for others. When we are afraid of losing love we will fail to confront evil. But if we really love someone genuinely we will fight to eradicate evil from their lives. We will want what is best for them, not what will simply make them happy. If you’re afraid of losing someone’s love, you’re in danger of not loving them genuinely. You will excuse their evil, and fail to build up what is good.
Cars: a case study in abhoring evil and clinging to good.
Love will always ask this question: “What is best for this person?”
But often what is best for a person is the hardest, most painful thing. And choosing this can be very difficult and painful for the one trying to love as well. This is why we must hold fast or glue ourselves to the good. Strap in. Buckle up. Hold on tight. Find the good in their life and cherish it. Celebrate it.
Real love won’t let the child have the candy bar when they are throwing a fit, but it will celebrate their sharing. Real love won’t let the friend cheat off your class work, but it will study with him to help him pass. Real love won’t let the teenagers go to “that party,” but it will throw a party when good decisions are made. Real love might not live in the same house with a destructive, or abusive person, but it will stand with open arms ready to reconcile at any time. But reconcile with discernment. With justice.
Amos 5:15. Hate evil, and love good, and establish justice in the gate.
Yes, real love is grace. Yes, grace forgives. Yes, grace offers millionth chances. But grace also empowers holiness. Grace produces repentance. Grace must be just. Grace restores by clinging to what is good and driving others toward this good. Genuine love makes hard choices every day. Genuine love forgives. But genuine love also protects. So real love forgives but it might not restore if the evil persists. But it will fight for that good restoration while abhoring evil. Sadly sometimes this may not happen this side of Heaven.
Genuine love means constantly checking your heart. Are you abhoring the evil or are you abhoring the person? Is your withholding a form of genuine love or is it vengeance? Retribution? Are your hard choices driven by a desire to find the good in the other person, or are you just trying to make your own life easier?
Mostly, are you doing BOTH: abhoring the evil AND clinging to the good? In every relationship there must be BOTH for it to be genuine love. Hating their evil without clinging to their good is not agape love. Clinging to their good without hating their evil is also not agape love.
Christ cherishes your good and he hates your evil. So much so that he died to eradicate your evil and he rose to quicken your good. His good in you.
“To live is Christ” will do the same for others. It will sacrifice, even the relationship itself if necessary, in order to fight evil. And it will sacrifice its own life to cling to whatever good is there, no matter how small it may be. How is this possible? Because you have the genuine love of God in you through your union with Christ. You have his knowledge of good and evil. You have his life.
Jon Foreman love songs day two. Enjoy.