Let Love Be Genuine
In Romans 12:9 we find these words,
Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. (Rom. 12:9 ESV)
In this verse, one sees that Paul continues to show what it means to present one’s body as a sacrifice living, holy, and acceptable to God and to not be conformed to the world but be transformed by the renewing of one’s mind (12:1-2). Verse 9 starts with “Let love be genuine.” That means let love be without hypocrisy. It should be sincere, not merely an external, surface kind of love, but a genuine from deep within kind of love. It should be without pretense. Notice that Paul does not exhort his audience to love. He assumes that, as Christians, they have love. What he calls them to is genuine love. A love without hypocrisy (not playing the part of an actor on stage), but a real love.
He continues by stating, “abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.” To abhor what is evil means to loath evil, despise evil, to be revulsed at evil. It is anything that God declares evil. “Evil is not tolerated but despised as that which is injurious and wicked” (Schreiner, BECNT, p.664). “Where there is love, evil is abhorred, not merely lamented, much less covered up, but hated” (Schlatter 1995: 235 in BECNT p.664). Conversely, where there is genuine love, there is a desire for what is good as defined by God. The ESV translates it “hold fast.” It means to cling to, to cleave to, to hold on tightly. Christians are not to tolerate evil but to abhor it. Christians are to hold fast to, cling to what is good.
Friend, Christians should have a genuine love. One that is not fake. One that is without hypocrisy. Love between believers should not be an act. It should be real, conforming to the love of God. How is your love for the saints? Do you put on “love” while at the building or does your love extend to “after hours”? Is it a real, felt affection for your brothers and sisters or is it a mask?
We are to abhor what is evil and cling to what is good. We are to hate exceedingly that which is evil and hold fast to, cleave to that which is good. We are to hate sin wherever it is found (starting in our own souls) and love righteousness wherever it is found. We should hate abortion and not tolerate it. It is evil. We should hate the profaning of God’s word. It is evil. You should hate your unrighteous anger. You should hate your lust. You should hate your ungodly fear. You should cling to peace. You should cling to purity. You should cling to trust in God.
“‘Genuine’ Christian love, Paul is suggesting, is not directionless emotion or something that can be only felt and not expressed. Love is not genuine when it leads a person to do something evil or to avoid doing what is right—as defined by God in His Word. Genuine love, ‘the real thing,’ will lead the Christian to that ‘good,’ which is the result of the transformed heart and mind (v.2)” (Moo, p.795).
Friend, is your love for others genuine? How would you know? Are you able to discern evil from good? Do you abhor evil, or do you tolerate it? Do you cling tightly to what is good?
May God grant us a genuine love for others, a hatred for evil, and a desire to cling to what is good.
By His Grace Alone,