Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.
(Romans 12:9 ESV)
I would like to believe that I live under this principle at all times. I would love to believe that my love for others is genuine and that I honestly hate what is evil, and that I cling tightly to what is good.
But, I don’t.
My love doesn’t always serve to be authentic and transparent. I hesitate when it comes to other people. I hold back love from people because I fear growing too trusting. I fear that they will leave me, that they will pick up their bags and run the other direction when they glimpse what is beneath my every day mask. I am afraid that I have monsters that people don’t want to help me battle, so I don’t always love genuinely. Instead, I treat love like some sort of equation. I try to make it some feelings-based, merit-based system. If I feel loving towards you, then I will act loving towards you. If you treat me with love and kindness, then I will return the favor.
And that doesn’t work out. Ever. Not once. It has never ended well for me to base how I treat another on how they treat me. It isn’t about serving self. Ever. Until I completely step out of looking at life that my love will always be fake. And most importantly until I let the love of Jesus Christ pour out of me and splash onto others then I have not loved anyone truly.
Do I hate what is evil? Yes. But I hate things that seem evil to me more. I hate injustice. I hate that there are slaves all over the world. I hate that people starve every night. I hate that people are freezing, and without money, that there are new orphans every hour. I hate all of those things. Do I hate the evil that I commit? Not enough. I don’t hate my sin enough. And I recognized that at the beginning of February. When I broke down and decided that I needed to work on being more compassionate with my life, I recognized that there are ugly, gigantic sins marching around in my life, and I have to hate those too. I can’t just hate evil that I’m not committing. When I fail to keep the Law, I am committing evil too. No matter how pretty and neat I try to tie it up and sell it, when I sin, I should recognize that it is ugly.
And if I hated my sin as much as I should, I’d probably be a lot less inclined to cling so tightly to it.
Now who doesn’t love what is good? Don’t we flock to happy endings? Don’t we find ourselves disappointed when a story that we’re watching play out at the movies ends sadly? Don’t we stand up and fight for the good? Yes, we often do. But, sometimes good isn’t easy to do. Sometimes good means standing out of a crowd. Sometimes good means walking away from situations that other people are delighting in. Good means that I don’t thrive on the injury of others–that my joys and laughs should never be at the expense of others.
This verse is so tiny. It seems so easy to skate right across as I study the Scripture. But it is real, and it always makes me pause. I should love authentically. I should hate what it is evil. And I should delight deeply in the good, even if it is uncomfortable.