Romans 12:9-10Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection.Outdo one another in showing honour.
Genuine Love “abhors what is evil “
This is strong language. What does it mean to “abhor” something? It is a response of the whole self in aversion and loathing. The things that I abhor, I don’t want anywhere near me. So we have to ask, how does genuine love that abhors evil work? The only place to start is to see how our Loving and Holy God responds to evil.
God abhors all that is evil, and loves all that is good, for all true goodness has is source in God. It is possible for us to make a show of doing this without love ever coming into the picture. You can turn on the news almost any given day and see people protesting against abortion, or gay marriage – abhorring what is evil without an ounce of love in their hearts.
Left to our natural selves, any hatred of evil only ends up as a display of self-righteousness. We can say things like “I can’t believe that person could do such a thing”, or “this world is going to hell in a hand-basket”. We can start to sound like the Pharisee who went up to the temple to thank God that he was not like wretched tax-collector standing next to him. I can guarantee you that this man abhorred evil – at least the evil that he could see in others, but he clearly did not possess genuine love.
So we need to ask ourselves, if we are to love like God loves, and to abhor what is evil, how does God demonstrate this? How can a hatred of evil, and love for people who are evil co-exist? God’s settled hostility to evil, and his incredible love for us is most clearly demonstrated in the cross of Christ. He does not compromise on or overlook our sin because he loves us, but rather, he took the just penalty for our sin onto himself in order to remove the barrier between us and his love.
The cross also breaks down the barriers between us as brothers and sisters in Christ that would keep us from this genuine love that abhors evil. When we see sin in our brothers and sisters, there are two things which should control our loving response. First, if you are sinned against, remember that Jesus died as much for that person’s sin as for your own. When you are aware that God’s response to your evil was to take the punishment Himself and free you from its control, only then can you can hate the evil done to you and still love and forgive the person who did it, not because we ignore sin, but because it has already been punished and paid for in full. Punishment is taken care of, so we a free to work for restoration and reconciliation
Second, just as we look back to the cross, we must also look forward.
Jude 21-23 “…keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. And have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.”
Just as Christ has rescued us from our sin through his own mercy, we are called to rescue others, (or rather to be God’s agents of rescue) showing the same mercy, genuinely loving the sinner, while at the same time hating everything tainted with sin. If we are genuinely looking forward to the mercy God will extend to us when we see him face to face, we will be much more inclined to show mercy to our brothers and sisters.