“Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.” Romans 12:9
Genuine love. I have never been someone who wants to pretend love towards someone or to receive it from someone. Even in small things, like when my grandbabies are being a little stinkers and don’t want to give hugs and kisses. For two reasons I am OK with it.
- I don’t want forced affection from anyone, especially someone I love.
- I want them to know that “no” means “no.” If they don’t want to give me affection, I want them to know it’s OK to tell in adult or anyone else “no.” I want to teach them “their body, their affection, it is theirs to give or not.” They shouldn’t feel pressured. It’s just a good healthy boundary.
I know God gave us the same right. He wants our love for Him to be genuine not out of obligation or force. That isn’t love. It’s one of the reasons that He gave us free choice. He looks at the motive of our heart much more than He looks at our behaviors.
““What do you think? A man had two sons. And he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ And he answered, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he changed his mind and went. And he went to the other son and said the same. And he answered, ‘I go, sir,’ but did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes go into the kingdom of God before you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him. And even when you saw it, you did not afterward change your minds and believe him.” Matthew 21:28-32
Abhor what is evil. I needed to look up abhor. Strong’s Greek Lexicon G655 – apostygeōto – dislike, abhor, have a horror of. While I was there, I looked up evil too. Strong’s Greek Lexicon G4190 – ponēros – bad, of a bad nature or condition. I knew that evil was bad, but in the Thayer’s Greek there was a notation that added “having the appearance of”.
God calls us to dislike, have a horror of not just bad things, but also those things that appear to be bad.
It may seem a little silly, but appearance really can have a large impact on our lives. As a teenager, I gained a bad reputation based on the appearance of my actions. It certainly was not helped by the running of my mouth. I figured if people were going talk I might as well add to it. I didn’t have an issue with people thinking bad about me, because I knew the truth.
One of my friend’s mothers thought that I was a bad kid. She made up her mind without little knowledge of who I was. The truth was, I was rather tame compared to most of the group we hung out with, I just didn’t fit her mold. I know comparison is dangerous, so I am only saying that to make the point. For her it was the appearance of bad that she made her judgement around. I never tried to hide my behaviors, or sneak around like most teenagers did.
Here’s the thing, eventually I took on the identity that I had allowed myself to appear to be. It didn’t matter that I really did not like some of the things I was doing. I ended up not living in integrity of what I believed. It was during that time I walked away from the Lord.
Hold fast to what is good. Good and evil have a hard time coexisting. You can’t be both at the same time really. Sin is evil, and while I am made righteous by Christ, I am not good when I am sinning. Choosing to walk in a lifestyle of sin, is evil. It is hard to hold fast to what is good when you are living a life that is or appears evil. God is good, we can and should cling to Him.
Prayer – Lord help me to love genuinely and to receive genuine love. Help me to be in horror of evil and anything that appears evil. Let me clean tightly to what is good. You are good!