Romans 12:9. Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.
How genuine is your love? Is it real? Or is it fake? How much of your love for others is a mask? Do you find it difficult to love certain people? Even Christians? Especially Christians?
Paul assumes that genuine love is possible for us. How? Because every Christian has received genuine love. God’s own agape love. God’s love is not pretend, pretentious, or hypocritical. God actually loves us. How do we know? Because he died for us.
Believing this is the great battle of the heart and mind. This IS mind renewal. Being convinced of God’s endless, eternal, unchanging, never wavering love for me. It is the source of all power in the Christian life. It generates all faith and hope. And of course, as we see here in Romans 12, it generates our genuine love for others. Our own cross shaped love. Love that, like Jesus on the cross, hates evil and is nailed to the good.
The cross therefore, offers us the true test of whether our love is genuine or not. Do you want to know if your love is real or not? Does it look like the cross? Does it abhor evil and hold fast to what is good?
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 selfishness. 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 too. Love can tell the difference. Love isn’t blind. Love’s eyes are wide open. And love opens the eyes of others.
When our love falls short of God’s agape love, it will often blur the line between good and evil. Love that is primarily selfish will make excuses for others. If we fear 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.
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 who is trying to love. 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 kind of party,” but it will throw a party when good decisions are made. Real love won’t live in the same house with an abusive person, but it won’t give up on that person either. It will seek reconciliation 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 that good. Genuine love makes hard choices every day. Genuine love forgives. But genuine love also protects. So real love forgives but it might not be able to restore the relationship if the evil persists. But it will never give up on that good restoration while, at the same time, abhoring evil. A restoration that, sadly, may not happen this side of Heaven.
In the end the question is, “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.
How genuine is your love? Do you hate evil AND cling to good?
You in Christ
Jesus hates your evil and clings to your good. How does this empower you today to love others?
Christ in you
What evil in others might you need to confront today? What good in others do you need to glue yourself to?
Playlist: Genuine love.