Three Things (Romans 12:9)

Love without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good.

Romans 12:9

Romans 12 is so packed with awesome things that I may spend several days re-reading this chapter. This morning, I found myself drawn to this verse and its three instructions.

Instruction number one: Love without hypocrisy. The copy of The Bible I was reading in rendered the instruction as Let love be without hypocrisy but the online Bible I copy the verses from for my entries rendered it [Let] love [be] without hypocrisy. The square brackets indicate that the words are not there in the original language, but are inserted by translators to give a sense of the meaning. While I normally appreciate the translators’ help, I think that they hurt the meaning here. The idea is simple: Love genuinely. Love sincerely. Love in truth. It is one thing to say that I love my wife (and I do), but it is an other thing entirely to back those words up with actions. To say the words and to back them up with action is to love without hypocrisy. James puts it more simply and says that saying I love my brother while doing nothing to help him makes me a liar. Love truly — words and actions in agreement.

Instruction number two: Abhor what is evil. I had to look up the words here, because I wanted to understand what was really being said. The word for abhor is well rendered, since it means literally to have a horror of. But the idea of what is evil seems a bit more difficult. The word seems to mean something more akin to labor and hardship and annoyance. The best way I can understand it is to look at the verses and instructions around it. It is nestled amidst Paul instructing believers to love one another and be devoted to one another. My understanding, then, boils down to the idea that I should hate the very notion of causing my brothers and sisters hardship and annoyance. In fact, Paul will go on to tell me that I should, as far as it depends on me, live at peace with all people, so this is probably not far off the mark. This does not mean that I should not hate things that are evil like sin and temptation and such, but that the instruction seems to be, in context, that I should not cause more hardship and annoyance than is strictly necessary to my brothers and sisters.

Instruction number three: Cling to what is good. The word rendered cling actually means something like glue yourself to. Pretty neat. As for good, it could mean “of good constitution or nature; useful, salutary; good, pleasant, agreeable, joyful, happy; excellent, distinguished; upright, honorable.” Which leads me to believer that Paul is instructing the believer to glue himself (or herself) to good things, especially pertaining to things that are agreeable and useful and salutary to our fellow believers. I could definitely be wrong, but there is nothing wrong with wanting to be a blessing to my brothers and sisters in Christ.

Three instructions that all be summed up in the first: Love sincerely.


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