Strength For Today

A journey of keeping my heart, mind, and body in TODAY

Love Journey: Cling to What is Good

on February 13, 2014

The second half of Romans 12:9 says “hate what is evil, cling to what is good“.  Let’s pull this apart and take a look at each element.  I think there is a lot to be understood from these words, in the context of LOVE.

Before I do this, I just want to reiterate that God’s heart is that we would BE love, not just FEEL it.

Let’s look at the word hate for a minute. I think that sometimes we desensitize this word in our society today.  Hate is a strong word. This word has always had such an ugly feel for me, personally. Growing up, it always felt like a bad word, so I only found myself using it in extreme circumstances.  And, I typically felt bad after I used it, like it was part of the “four-letter-words” vocabulary that I wasn’t supposed to let fall from my mouth.  So, I have to admit that I found it very interesting to understand that even God hates.

Proverbs 6:16-19 is one very powerful example of what God hates:  16 There are six things the LORD hates, seven that are detestable to him: 17 haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, 18 a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, 19 a false witness who pours out lies and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers. (NIV)

I personally found this verse to be extremely helpful when unpacking the second half of Romans 12:9.  When you talk about love, you don’t typically think about hate, right?  Well, for me, this is just another one of those paradoxes of Faith.  In order to love one thing, I must hate another.  I mean, I can’t LOVE everything, can I?  If I love truth, don’t I hate lies?  If I love good, don’t I hate evil?  OK, so I can wrap my mind around this.

So back to the sole purpose of this particular submersion into Love in the context of relationship.  If you read my previous post on the first half of Romans 12:9 (Love must be sincere), I am choosing to define love as an expression of a choice to exist in relationship.

With that in mind, and with what I now understand about the word “hate”, I want to look at this verse again. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.  What is considered evil, in the context of relationship?

According to God’s Word, in Romans 1:29-32, this is my understanding of evil: (In the verses that follow, the apostle Paul is referring to people who have chosen to intentionally turn their back to God, thus resulting in evil behaviors.  What I find interesting, is the wide array of behaviors considered evil.  I used to think of evil as extreme darkness….according to what I read here…..this is not necessarily the case. Evil equates sin, and God hates sin.)

They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity.  They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice.  They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless.  Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.   Romans 1: 29-32 NIV

Whew!  That’s a LOT to wrap my mind around!  At first glance, I wonder why something as seemingly simple as “disobey their parents and gossip” are in the same context of evil as “murder”.  One could dive very deeply into this concept, but for the purposes of this study I will just say that I have learned on this Faith journey that ALL forms of evil are the same in God’s eyes.  Evil is evil.  Sin is sin.  There are not levels of sin.  God doesn’t have a scale, where He weighs one sin against another.  He doesn’t say that “this sin is justifiable, but that sin is unforgivable”.  That is not how our LORD operates.  He hates ALL sin.  Therefore, we are called to do the same.

(I just want pause here and say that NO ONE IS PERFECT, and ALL OF US SIN on a daily basis.  Which is why there is LOVE.  There is GRACE.  God’s LOVE and GRACE have allowed us to be forgiven from all of our sins, through the birth, life, death, and resurrection of His one and only Son, Jesus!)

So, our perfect example of hating what is evil and clinging to what is good, is the LORD Himself.  He shows us that although we are a broken world; abundant in sin of all sorts; He absolutely LOVES us and desires relationship with us.

So, if we follow His example in our relationships:  hating what is evil, but clinging to what is good, we are certain to experience and be able to express true love in our relationships.

I just want to add here, that it is very easy to focus on all things negative and bad in our relationships.  If we stay focused on what we hate, then we will walk around with the negativity that hate brings into our hearts on a regular basis. This typically comes out in our words and actions with those we love.  If we are constantly looking at the things that are wrong, we will constantly be in a state of dissension with our loved ones.

However; if we choose to cling to the good (hold TIGHTLY to), and focus on the things in our relationships that are good, we will walk around with a much different perspective of both our relationships and our loved ones.  It is sometimes very difficult to find the “good” when things are hard.  Which is why, I believe, that God uses the word CLING here.  When I think of clinging to something, I think of holding on with a desperation that is both beautiful and intense.  Sometimes you have to search fiercely for the good, but if you look hard enough, you WILL find it.  It is one of God’s amazing promises.  Remember that God is the only perfect good that exists…so if you are looking for the good, and find it hard to see…perhaps you are missing the point.  Look past your circumstance, look past your relationship, look past your loved ones, and look to God.  He will ALWAYS show you the good because He IS GOOD.

REFLECT:

1.  Where is my focus in my current relationship?

2.  What is stopping me from seeing the good right now?

3.  How can I look past what I can see, and into what God wants to show me?

 

 

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, hate is extreme dislike or antipathy.

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