By Ricky Chelette
Hate. We hear a lot about that word in our world. It has all kinds of negatives associated with it, and rightly so. We should never hate people and too often we do. This is evidenced whenever we see crimes committed against people or when we fail to defend and protect those who are unable to help themselves.
But is hate always wrong? Scripture says, “no.” In fact, it uses a very severe word “abhor.”
Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. (Rom. 12:9)
I believe that one of the reasons we, as a culture or as a Christian, have such a difficult time understanding love is that we have aversion to hate. From Paul’s perspective, there cannot be real love unless there is genuine, appropriately directed, hate. The first part of verse 9 says, “Love must be genuine…” and then gives a two statement summation of how that genuine love lives itself out: 1) hating evil. 2) clinging to what is good.
How do we hate evil? Evil is the inclination to oppose the Creator and His Kingdom. Evil is most often manifested in acts of sin we commit. We sin (literally miss the mark), because we, like Adam, fall short of the glory of God. The Good News is that when Jesus died on the cross He freed those who would believe in Him from the power of sin in our lives. Romans 6 speaks specifically about this. When He was put to death, we, who are now in Christ, were also put to death. As a result, we no longer have to allow sin to rule over us, though we are still subject to the evil of this yet unredeemed world. We have died to sin in Christ, and dead people don’t sin.
Then why do we sin? I believe one of the reasons is we don’t hate evil or our sin. Sure, we hate evil in the world, but rarely enough to change the way we live. We generally hate other people’s sin most of the time. That is easy. We see the speck in another’s eye and are quick to be offended, repulsed, and even outraged while all the while, the beam that is in our own eye is seemingly undetected (Matt. 7:3-5).
But we are so acquainted with evil and our sin(s) that they have become like our old friends. They feel familiar, comfortable, predictable and dependable. We visit them regularly and give us pleasure. That pleasure temporarily fills the angst in our lives, but ultimately leaves us hungry for more sin.
Not only does Paul encourages us to abhor (detest, hate, be repulsed by) what is evil in order to love well, but also admonishes us to “cling to what is good.” Paul understands the human predicament to want to have something/someone to connect to in our lives. We were not created for isolation, but community. Paul knows that when we cast out an evil mechanism used for support and comfort (our sin), we must replace that evil with something with Someone — that Someone is Jesus. In order for real love to flourish, we must hate evil in all its forms and continually cling to author of love, Jesus. The only good there is comes from God perfectly realized in Jesus (James 1:17). When we cling to Jesus we cling to what is good!
Do you hate evil? Have you purposefully done everything you can to keep evil and sin out of your life? Have you learned to cling to what is good – Jesus, His Word, His people, and His Church? Have you found Jesus to truly be better than your sin? If you haven’t, then your problem isn’t hating too much, it’s not loving and clinging to Jesus nearly enough.