Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good.
In Romans 12, the Apostle Paul talked about what love is and what love does. In verse 9, he said, “Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good.” Notice there are two characteristics of what love is.
First of all, Paul said, love is without hypocrisy. That word “hypocrisy” comes from a Greek word that describes an actor who would put on a mask to pretend to be somebody else. That is what a hypocrite is. He is somebody who is masked, somebody who is playing a part different from who he really is. Paul was saying, “Let your love be without a mask. Do not be two-faced.” We do that all the time, don’t we? We see somebody and say, “It is wonderful to see you,” while privately thinking, “When can I get out of here?” Or you say to somebody, “You look great today,” when you secretly think, “That is the most hideous outfit I have ever seen.” That is hypocritical love. Christians are not to be that way.
Second, true love is discerning. Paul said, “Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good” (12:9). We all know people who go around saying, “I just love everybody and everything.” That is not true love; that is mushy sentimentality. If you really love somebody, then you will be discriminating. True love does not discriminate against people, but it discriminates between good and evil.
In the 1960s, Joseph Fletcher introduced a concept called situational ethics. Situational ethics was the revolutionary thought that there are no moral absolutes, that nothing is absolutely right or absolutely wrong in every circumstance. That would mean instead of asking what is right or wrong, you ought to ask yourself, “What is the loving thing to do in this situation?” For example, if two people love one another and just happen to be married to other people, then situational ethics says it is not wrong for them to commit adultery because the loving thing is for those two people to be together. Or if a mother finds herself pregnant and the thought of a new baby is stressing her out, then the thing she ought to ask herself is, “What is the loving thing to do?” And the loving thing to do in that situation, she would say, is to take care of her own needs first and get rid of her baby. That is situational ethics. What began as a revolutionary concept in the 1960s has become mainstream today. It is the way our culture thinks. People say there is nothing that is right or wrong in every circumstance; what is important is that you just love people.
But Paul said it is impossible for something to be loving and evil at the same time. When we say we love somebody, it does not mean that we love everything they do or love everything about that person. It means that we want the very best for him or her, and at the same time we hate what is evil. True love is without hypocrisy, and it is discerning.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “True Love Never Waits” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2014.
Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.