"Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good." - Romans 12:9
There is much in the world that disguises itself as love. Out of the noisy menagerie of voices declaring what true love is, there comes a call to sincere, undiluted, unpolluted love.
The clarion cry is the music of agape love. It is God’s purist and best favor toward undeserving and non-reciprocating sons and daughters of our first parents who unceremoniously turned their backs on their Maker.
O Love that wilt not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in thee;
I give thee back the life I owe,
That in thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be. (George Matheson)
Two characteristics of such durable and relentless love are that it abhors what is evil and cleaves to what is good.
Abhorrence of evil means that sincere love rejects every enemy of love and all that sets out to destroy the object of its love. If it is not good for us, God despises it and calls upon us to despise and reject it. Whatever destroys our potential and our intimacy with God is to be hated with extreme prejudice.
In like manner, to cleave to what is good is to practice the sincerest form of love. It is to embrace everything that nurtures, challenges, encourages, and purifies the child of God.
In this season when so many shall be promising undying love at the altar of marriage, let us encourage within ourselves that divine quality that flows from the heart of God. Let us reject all that destroys and embrace all that builds.
"Be kindly affectioned one toward another with brotherly love;" - Romans 12:10a
There are three kinds of love described in the New Testament through the use of three different Greek words. The first is mandated in Romans 12:9 and portrayed as sincere love that abhors evil and embraces goodness. The next two are found in the very beginning of verse 10. They are affectionate love and familial love.
Affection is a warm and comforting emotion. It can also be painful because it is tender. It is manifested in kindness and in the “one another” qualities of the church as the body of Christ. It is something to be cultivated. There is an expectation that Christians will enjoy each others’ company, that they will laugh together, cry together, and share moments of intense togetherness.
Perhaps you have had the experience of lingering over dinner into the late hours of the night or closing a coffee shop with the conversation still alive just because you are enjoying the company of a fellow believer and cannot bear to part.
Likewise, you may have known the pangs of loss that come when the hour of parting comes through death or separation.
When we asunder part,
It gives us inward pain,
But we shall all be joined as one
And hope to meet again. (John Fawcett)
There is also the expectation of familial love – the kind that a parent has for a child and a child for a parent. It is the kind of love that is expressed in belonging and feeling at home. It has been said that home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to let you in.
Thus is the church. It is home. It is the family of God. It is where we belong.
Not only is such love expected of us, it is one of the great privileges of belonging to the Lord.
Surrendering First Place
“… in honor preferring one another.” - Romans 12:10b
You don’t have to have all the honor. Leadership is about giving the credit for great accomplishments to others. Any leader worth is or her salt in business or public life understands that in order to build morale and promote productivity, he or she should be far less concerned with receiving honor than with giving it.
The business world learned that principle from people who practiced the biblical teachings of preferring one another above self.
Everyone knows the saying, “There is no ‘I’ in team.” What we are likely to forget is that the team that functions as a healthy church functions is made up of people who go out of their way to build each other up and shrug at the possibility of self-glorification.
That is why superstar Christianity is such a contradiction.
I recently heard an international superstar celebrity who happens to be a Christian speaking about this issue. He lamented the wrong side out, upside down phenomenon that he called, “celebrity” as being at odds with the gospel. He asked why a rock star should get more glory than a teacher or a nurse. Finally, he conceded that since it was a reality, he would simply treat it as currency and be responsible for spending it in such a way as to do God’s will and promote causes that were dear to His heart.
It is hard to be humble against the backdrop of thunderous applause, but that is our calling, to always be pushing people out in front of us and lifting them higher than ourselves.
Jesus taught us that the way up is down, and it is still true.