Romans 12:9- “Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good.” NKJV
Paul is strategic in his thinking. He appears to be rambling, but as he is led by God’s Spirit, he addresses an issue, then a counter-issue, all without losing focus. He started this portion of his letter that we call chapter 12, by telling us how to live for God. It appears that he switches to the topic of gifts, but he hasn’t switched at all. In fact, he is really letting us know that God has gifted us to function as one body, what these gifts are, and how we should function in them.
First, Paul states that we are to love without hypocrisy or deceit. No one likes to be deceived, least of all someone who trusts you. As Christians, when we intermingle in the world in which we live, we are to demonstrate the love of God, at all times, without hypocrisy. I like how Jesus said it in John 13:34-35:
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”John 13:34-35 NKJV
Previously, Jesus had told us to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. For some, this is not a good role model because they don’t like themselves very much. But if you are like me, I’m kinda crazy about myself! I can understand that message! Jesus took it to a whole new dimension when He said that He was giving us a new commandment, for us to love one another as He has loved us! I hope you notice the bold and italicized words? I have definitely placed emphasis on the words in this verse! He told us! All of us! To love one another, every single Christian that is part of the Body of Christ, as He has loved us!
When I was in the military I had to move to several different locations. I distinctly remember when I was on the plane headed for Italy. It felt like an adventure, but I also felt all alone. When I got to the base, and met some fellow Christians, my heart was able to handle the separation from friends and family a lot better. They loved me, and I loved them, for that time we were together, as if we had known each other all of our lives. I would like to think that I could go anywhere in the world, meet a fellow believer and be safe! That’s the kind of love Jesus was speaking of! In Him, we are safe, and so should we be with one another!
Now what if they had a different kind of love? A love full of hypocrisy? That would not have been a safe environment for me. I would have thought that I was going to be cared for when in actuality they had something more sinister on their mind! Terrible thought!
Jesus made it clear that when we love others like He loves us, people would know that we are His disciples! I don’t know about you, but I would rather be known as a disciple of Jesus, than to be the most famous person on earth!
Paul is encouraging us that as we serve the Father, serve with love that has no deceit in it! Teachers, love your students, don’t mistreat them! Don’t lead them astray! Teach them the truth in love; care for them like Jesus cares for you! Pastors, exhorters, love the people! All of the people. Shepherd all the flock that He sends you, the same way you were shepherded, or should have been shepherded. Don’t deceive them by telling them they are loved when you have a hidden agenda that has nothing to do with love. Love the sheep! Each gift can be singled out and looked at through the lens of love and how it is so important as we serve in the kingdom of God.
Hate evil! Not just the evil in the world, and the evil in others, but the evil in your own life. Don’t let it come near you! Remember Paul’s words from chapter 2:
You, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself? You who preach that a man should not steal, do you steal? You who say, “Do not commit adultery,” do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who make your boast in the law, do you dishonor God through breaking the law? For “the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you,” as it is written.Romans 2:21-25 NKJV
People are watching Christians all the time. Some of those people are watching because they are wanting to see if this is for real, something that would make them whole! Some are watching because they are naysayers. But all are watching and when we don’t hate the evil in our lives, or the lives of those we cater to, or our family and friends, then we blaspheme the name of our God amongst the people of the world! Let’s not be like that! We are to be different from the people who don’t know Jesus!
Cling to what is good! The sons of Korah sang this in a psalm:
Seek good and not evil, that you may live; so the Lord God of hosts will be with you, as you have spoken. Hate evil, love good; establish justice in the gate. It may be that the Lord God of hosts will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph.Hosea 5:15 NKJV
Were these words only for the people who Hosea was speaking to? I don’t think so! They ring just as true today that we are to seek good, to love good, to establish justice in our cities; while we hate evil, and trust God to be with us!
Paul gives us a list of behaviors that we as Christians should exhibit. I have introduced the first three to you, and I encourage you to look into the others. They are things that should be very much a part of our lives and how we serve! I won’t write on them all, but in my next post I will pull out a couple others that speak to me. Until next time, Wonderful Jesus!