Romans 12:9 ESV
“Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.”
Let Love Be Genuine
God is love, and love comes from God, so if we are loving others with this kind of love it will be genuine. But anything can be faked, as we should all realize by now if we are awake and if we are paying attention to what all is going on in the world around us. And a lot of people have misconceptions about God’s love, or when they see the word “love,” they translate it into human terms, and so they don’t really understand what this love means.
This love is not centered in self or in others but in God who is love. This love is unselfish and it thinks about others’ true needs without regard for how one is treated in return. For this is how Jesus loves. This love is founded in what is holy, righteous, honest, faithful and morally pure, so this love will not willfully do to others what will harm them nor will it encourage or pacify sinful behaviors in others, especially not in fellow Christians.
God loves us and because he loves us he sent Jesus Christ to die for us on that cross, but not just to forgive us our sins and to promise us heaven when we die. If that is all it is, it isn’t love, because that would still be leaving us in bondage to our sin. His love sent Jesus to die for us so that we would be crucified with Christ in death to sin and raised with Christ to walk in newness of life in him, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. His love sets us free from addiction to sin. Amen?
Hate What is Evil
So, if we are loving others with this genuine love which comes from God and which is aligned with God’s divine character and will for our lives, we are going to hate what God hates and we are going to love what God loves. And God hates evil. He hates sin which is why he (God the Son, Jesus) died on that cross to put sin to death in our lives so that we would no longer walk in sin but now in his righteousness, by the grace of God and in his power.
And if we hate evil we are not going to keep on living in sin. Sin will no longer have control over our lives. We will not be obeying sin, making sin our practice, but daily by the Spirit we will be putting to death the deeds of the flesh. And we will be walking according to the Spirit in holiness and righteousness and in obedience to our Lord and to his commands (New Covenant). Evil will be put away from us and replaced with godliness.
So, we are not going to willfully take into our eyes, ears and minds what is evil, and if we see something or hear something evil we will immediately turn it off and not listen to it or not watch it. And evil is anything that God defines as evil/sin, and not just the really bad stuff. A little bit of poop in your brownies is still poop in your brownies no matter how little it might be. We need to not have the filth of this world in our lives even a little bit.
Hold Fast to What is Good
Now, if we hold fast to what is good that means that we embrace it, we own it, we encourage it and we live it. Good, rather than evil, should represent our lives and how we live. But “good” has to be defined by God and by his Word and not by us or by other humans. Especially in the times we are now living, including within the institutional church, good is being spoken of as evil, and evil is being spoken of as good, so we can’t go by that.
“Good” in the eyes of God is what is righteous, holy, morally pure, upright, honest, faithful, and committed to the Lord Jesus and to following in his ways and in his truth. “Good” is also loving others in the same way in which God/Jesus loved/loves us, and God is honest with us about our sin, and Jesus was willing to die in order to free us from our addiction to sin, and the Scriptures warn of judgment and of hell if we choose to keep living in sin.
So, loving others isn’t just about doing kind deeds to them or for them. It is caring deeply about their spiritual lives, too, and it is talking with people about sin and about what Jesus did to free us from our addiction to sin so that we would now walk in holiness with him. We aren’t loving others if we only say to them what makes them feel good and if we never talk with them about sin and God’s remedy for our sin. Genuine love speaks the truth.
Romans 12:14 ESV
“Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.”
Now, if we love others with genuine love which comes from God and loves as God loves us, then we should expect to be treated much in the same way as Jesus was treated. For Jesus didn’t just (only) go about healing people and delivering them from demons and feeding them and performing all sorts of miracles in front of them and for them.
Jesus talked with them about their sin and he told them that they must repent of their sins and follow him in obedience or that they do not have eternal life in him. When speaking to the hypocritical spiritual leaders within the temple of God he was very frank and direct with them about their sin because they were making shows of righteousness on the outside to try to look good to others to impress them and to get their approval, but they were filled with evil on the inside and they were sinning in secret against God.
But this was God’s love being poured out through Jesus’ words, for the love that comes from God corrects evil, it calls evil what it is, and it calls for those who are giving way to evil to repent of their evil lifestyles and to now follow Jesus in obedience to his ways or else they will face the wrath of God and they will not inherit eternal life with God no matter what professions of faith they may have made in Jesus Christ.
But in today’s modern Christianity in America we are being taught that it is not kind or loving to talk with people about their sin, or else we should wait at least two years after we have had time to develop a friendship with them and when we have earned the right to talk with them about their sin, then we can talk with them. That is what we are being told.
And so we get this wrong idea about love that it is all about just saying what makes people feel good about themselves, and obviously the majority of professing Christians have bought into this, which is evident on social media, in particular, since a lot of them interact with each other no differently than the people of the world interact with each other, just telling jokes and stories and sharing memes with diluted messages to make people feel good.
But, if we take God seriously, and if we take his commission to us seriously to take his gospel to the world, and if what we are sharing is not the diluted gospel but the full gospel message that Jesus and his New Testament apostles taught, we are going to be persecuted. And if we confront our fellow Christians with their sinful lifestyles and we exhort them to repent and to follow Jesus in obedience, we are also going to be persecuted by some of them. But we are to respond with the love of God and not in retaliation.
And just one more thing, based off this song below which is based off Isaiah’s call and Jeremiah’s call of God, we should be willing servants of the Lord who will say, “Here am I, send me,” and who will not fear opposition and persecution, but who will keep on speaking the truth and not be silent until Jesus comes to take us home. And this is because love compels us to tell the truth of the gospel that many might be saved and have eternal life.
He Touched My Mouth
An Original Work / June 13, 2012
Based off Isaiah 6:1-8; Jeremiah 1:4-9
Oh, I saw the Lord seated on His throne,
High and lifted up; Holy is the Lord!
The earth is full of His glory.
“Woe to me,” I cried,
“I’m of unclean lips.”
My Lord touched my mouth
With His cleansing pow’r;
Removed all my guilt, paid for by His blood.
He asked, “Whom shall I send;
Who will go for us?”
I said, “Here am I. Send me!”
Before I was born, God set me apart;
He appointed me to His servant be.
I said, “I don’t know how to speak.
I am but a child.” Then, the Lord replied:
“Do not say to me, ‘I am but a child.’
You must go to all and do what I say.
Do not fear them, for I’m with you.”
My Lord touched my mouth;
Gave me words to say.