During these 12 weeks of summer, Pastor Bob is preaching a series called
“Exchange: Lifestyle,” exploring chapters 12-16 of the book of Romans. I divided it up into daily readings and have committed to daily journaling my reflections about each.
Romans 12:9 Love must be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil, cling to what is good.
I’m glad that we have only a verse a day this week. That’ll allow me to dig in deeply and really reflect on each phrase.
Love must be… The word for love here is agape. The Greek dictionary in the NET Bible defines it as “brotherly love.” So I’m confused. I always thought brotherly love was the Greek word phileo and that agape meant self-less, charitable, unconditional love. I guess I’m going to need to do a little research to clarify these important words. (If anyone happens to be reading this and can point me to some related resources, I’d be grateful.)
without hypocrisy. This is translated sincere, or genuine, or without hypocrisy in the more literal translations. It says that our love for others needs to be real and not fake. We need to be authentic in our love of others.
So now I’m going to reflect on that. What if I don’t truly love someone? (and this is sadly the case about far too many people in “my world.”) Am I to fake that I love them or treat them with authentic unlove? Neither seems like a good option from this passage. I am commanded to love them authentically. Hmmmm.
Can I spontaneously generate love for people I don’t care a thing about? I believe the answer is no. So how am I going to fulfill this difficult command? I think it’s going to go back the lessons I learned two weeks ago in 12:1-2 about our need to surrender. Only God can change our cold hearts and make them tender towards others. My job, it seems, is to seek this from God.
I’ve actually been trying to do this ever since February as a result of my study of Romans 9:2-4, where Paul’s love for the lost is on display. Several times a week I’ve made it a goal to ask for a greater love and passion to be kindled in my life for those around me. I don’t have to particularly like everyone, but I’d better come to the place where I can treat them with love.
Abhor what is evil, cling to what is good. It’s also going to take proper thinking to identify which is which. It goes back to “renewing our minds” in verse 2. (I’m starting to suspect that we’re going to be returning to 12:1-2 a lot!)
Again, this is going to take God’s doing, not mine as I surrender my judgments about what is good and evil to His.
And then, once I’ve correctly identified good and evil, my job is to “abhor” evil. To view it like a horror movie! And “cling” to what is good. That Greek word for cling, is the word for glue! So I need to glue myself to goodness! That’s a great word picture that I can understand!