Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honour one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervour, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.
Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary:
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
The true Christian is someone who hates! Who hates what is evil. We surely assent to that statement but for it to have meaning we have to define evil and then address the fact that because we are fallen creatures what is evil for one person is not evil or perhaps less evil for someone else.
The Bible tells us that in the beginning all was good and indeed very good – a situation we cannot but acknowledge if we read Genesis chapter 1 and the reason for this is clearly that ‘in the beginning was God’ and God is by definition, good.
However a quick engagement with any of the news media shouts at us that that is not the case today, nor was it yesterday, nor has it been since Genesis chapter 3, and it is the acknowledgement of this that sets the Christian apart from all other people in regard to lifestyle and behaviour.
In the Church of England celebration of Communion those who participate are challenged with these words before sharing in the Bread and Wine.
You who truly and earnestly repent of your sins and are reconciled and
at peace with your neighbours and intend to lead a new life, following
the commandments of God and walking in his holy ways, draw near by
faith, take this holy sacrament for your encouragement and make your
humble confession to Almighty God.
And that puts ‘hating evil’ in a nutshell.
It is to follow the commandments of God and to walk in his holy ways for if I am doing that I am closing the door to that which is evil for the commandments of God and Holy living are the exact opposite of evil. Ah, but you will rightly say, if you are honest, that is too high a standard for me to keep and you are right! Which is why Jesus came and kept that standard on our behalf, sealing his victory over sin and evil by his death and resurrection. However there is a danger that we believe that superficially, and buy into ‘cheap grace’ when we are called to actively ‘hate what is evil’.
The challenge for us today is, ‘How holy is my living?’ Am I actively ‘hating evil’? or am I too easily giving in to the allure of the world and its ways?
But it is not just ‘hating evil’ which we are called to here but alongside that to ‘cling to what is good’!
Do these two things define your life this day or are you trying to live with a foot in two camps – claiming to be a true Christian, but at the same time, enjoying the pleasures of sin?
Hear what the writer to the Hebrews says about Moses:
By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward. Hebrews 11.24-26
Hating evil and clinging to what is good puts you at odds with the world for the world hates good and loves evil. Trying to have a bit of both, blunts your usefulness for God’s service.
Let us each ask ourselves this morning,
‘do I hate what is evil and cling to that which is good?’