Friday, January 11, 2008

Sincere Love - Part 2

Paul suggests that an unfeigned love will be demonstrated by your affections – what you esteem and value. He puts the matter quite simply:

“Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.”

I. The ATTITUDE OF GENUINE LOVE

A. Genuine love hates evil.

Psalm 5

4 For you are not a God who delights in wickedness;

evil may not dwell with you.

5 The boastful shall not stand before your eyes;

you hate all evildoers.

6 You destroy those who speak lies;

the Lord abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man.

We might assume that since “God is love,” we would find His values and affections would be our model for a life of true love. Paul sets up this first part of the equation by saying that genuine love flows from a heart that is continually hating evil. He uses very strong language here – “to abhor” or “intensely hate.” Murray says this is “the recoil of abhorrence.”

What do you hate? A person? How do you feel when they walk into the room? Do you know that sense of “recoil” or “revulsion?” That sense that you must leave the room – you cannot speak with them? I hope you do not! But most of us can identify at least a little with that feeling of utter rejection.

Once I was visiting friends and they brought out their pet lizard. REVULSION! But not as much as somebody else in the room – when the kids brought the lizard near him he jumped up and ran out of the kitchen!

Now – Paul says that true love will be evidenced by a revulsion, an abhorring, an intense hate of all things evil - all that is opposed to God and Righteousness.

Which means, if you delight in pornography, or the suffering of the innocent, or violence of war – you have a love problem.

As Amos said to the disobedient people of God many centuries ago:

Amos 5:14 Seek good, and not evil,

that you may live;

and so the Lord, the God of hosts, will be with you,

as you have said.

15 Hate evil, and love good,

and establish justice in the gate;

it may be that the Lord, the God of hosts,

will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph.

How does this stance toward evil directly effect my love of others? Good question!

B. Genuine love is Glued to Good

The second part of this two-sided love coin is found in the ongoing command: “hold fast to what is good.”

Again, Paul chooses to use very strong words to describe the intensity of this relationship.

I remember one girl in college that liked me. It was obvious she liked me in all the ways that the time and culture in which I lived communicated interest between members of the opposite sex. The problem was, I was not interested in her. In fact, I was less than interested in her.

She did not appeal to me in the least. I found her someone I liked to NOT be around. And as her intentions for me became more obvious, I became more uncomfortable and sought all the harder to avoid, evade and elude this certain girl. It was revulsion at first sight!

However, when I first saw this smiling dame from Indiana... it was LOVE at first sight! And that love made itself known by me doing everything I could to be around, near or at least in visual proximity to her!

This nearness had a twofold purpose:

1. To win her by my most winsome ways.

2. To fight off all her other suitors!

When the day finally came for the fog to clear and for her to capture an accurate glance of me and all I had to offer... she too began to desire this nearness. So much so, that one day we were married – joined in a legal, spiritual, physical oneness until death should finally separate us.

The word that Paul chooses to describe our relationship to “good” is the same word he uses in other places to describe this unity between a married couple. It is sometimes used as euphemism for the sexual relationship such as in:

1 Corinthians 6

16 Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, “The two will become one flesh.” 17 But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him.

Genuine love is proven by having a heart that is “joined to good.” As Murray suggests it: a heart that is “in bonded allegiance” to good. It is the same word Jesus used when He quoted from Genesis 2 saying: ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to [CLEAVE TO] his wife, and they shall become one flesh.’

What is more intimate than the physical union of husband and wife? It is gloriously intimate! It is a desired intimacy!

So, genuine love is repulsed by evil and one with good. Glued to good. In bonded allegiance with good! It lives for and desires good!

Now, love is not just some ethereal, intangible, heart-fluttering emotion. It is a state of mind that results in action. And these actions are first described as taking place within the Body of Christ. More on that to follow...