Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.

Romans 12: 9


This short verse contains three very strong words. The first of those is genuine. It comes from the same root word as does hypocrisy, and it conveys much the same idea. Christ loves us in a manner that is without protective shell, is beyond condition, and is totally committed. We have a natural tendency to get in our own way when it comes to loving in this manner. Our fears and distrust make us withhold ourselves; so, we become actors in a theater of life production rather than being people who give ourselves fully and honestly to the relationships that God brings our way.


Next and related to this first idea is the one of abhorring evil. This is a word that literally means “to shudder with horror or hate”. This is that strong reaction that seems to come over a person without warning when something so powerfully wrong is seen and the body just reacts with a reflexive shake, sigh, and tightening of the muscles. Unfortunately, our world is so filled with evil that we get to be insensitive to it. So the Holy Spirit of Christ works to point it out to us. He keeps us sensitive to its presence and calls His people to engage with its sources so that love is not crushed and buried under evil’s debris.


Paul then tells us that as a result of embracing genuine love and responding to the evil of this world with a Christ-like sacrificial zeal we are to also “hold fast to what is good.” This is the same word as is used to describe the bond of husband and wife in marriage, which we often hear expressed as “cleave”. We are to be glued to and bonded with what is good. This reality in life starts with Christ as the author and keeper of goodness. It continues in our relationship with God that is made alive in our engagement with this world as defined for us and guided by God’s word and the Holy Spirit. So, genuine love leads us into Christ’s abhorrence of evil with its destructive nature, and all of this is given focus and balance by being wedded to the goodness that is God.