If We’re Gonna Love, We Gotta Hate (and Other Surprising Things about Love)

November 20, 2022 Speaker: Allen Snapp Series: Great to Good

Topic: Love Passage: Romans 12:9–21

Great to Good

Allen Snapp

Grace Community Church

Nov. 20, 2022

 

If We’re Gonna Love, We Gotta Hate (and Other Surprising Things about Love)

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. 10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. 11 Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. 12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. 13 Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.

14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. 17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Rom. 12:9-21

Paul’s train of thought in this chapter goes something like this: Because of God’s great mercy towards us, saving us not through anything we’ve done but through what Jesus Christ has done – in view of that great mercy, because of that great mercy - we are to offer ourselves as living sacrifices to God, being transformed inwardly and outwardly by the renewal of our minds. As we think differently we will live differently! And as we fill our mind with God’s thoughts, we will be able to know what God’s will is. In verses 3-8 we learn it is God’s will that we use our spiritual gift to serve God’s purposes by serving God’s people.

Then in verse 9 Paul says, let love be genuine. God’s will is that we love authentically. So the question is, what does genuine, authentic love look like? What does it act like? The answer might surprise us.

I’m calling this message If We’re Gonna Love, We Gotta Hate (and Other Surprising Things about Love).

Surprise #1 - Love is action more than it’s an emotion

That may not be a surprise to many of you, but judging by the many love songs out there, a lot of people think love is a feeling. One of the top selling songs of all time is, You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling. People say, “I just don’t feel love for him/her anymore” as if that’s the last word. Feelings gone, love is gone.

Verses 9-21 taken together are all things we do or don’t do. Do brotherly affection. Outdo honoring one another. Don’t be slothful. Do be generous to the needy. And so on. It’s rapid fire actions one after the other.

Genuine love is more about what we do than what we feel. Emotions are a gift from God and we should value them but we shouldn’t build our lives, or our love, on them. Emotions shift and change on a daily basis – sometimes several times a day.

Love involves our feelings but genuine love is anchored in what we do more than what we feel, but it needs to be said that we need the empowering of the Holy Spirit to both feel and do love. We can’t do it on our own, we need God’s transforming work taking place in us and through us to love with the love of God.

We see God working in us in both our feelings and our doings in Phil. 2 work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. Phil 2:12-13

God works in us both to will (speaks our desires, our want to) and to work (energein – have the energy to do) His good will. The Holy Spirit empowers and energizes us to feel and do what God’s love does. But these verses tell us that love is more about what we do than about what we feel. Love is action more than it’s emotion.

One thing this tells us is that our ability to love isn’t limited by our personality type. We all have different personalities. Some people are introverts. Some are extroverts. Some are a combination of both. Some people wear their heart on their sleeves – you know exactly what they’re feeling all the time. They are expressive – when they love they gush love! Others are very private about their feelings and find it difficult to express their emotions.

Our personalities are given to us by God. Your personality is hand-crafted by God – you don’t need to change your personality and you shouldn’t feel you need to copy someone else’s personality in order to love. I feel like someone needs to hear this because you need to be set free from the misconception that your ability to love is limited by your personality. It’s not! Love is more about doing than feeling. More action than emotion.

In fact, as someone said, it’s easier to act our way into feeling than to feel our way into acting. Do loving things and you’ll feel love. But you may not jump up and down and hug everyone. And that’s ok. It’s who God made you and He loves who you are.

Surprise #2 - Love hates evil

Let love be genuine. Abhor (hate) what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Vs. 9

If we’re gonna love, we gotta hate.

A couple years ago we had a big family reunion for Thanksgiving and Janice’s sister Celia made the pumpkin pies. Normally I love pumpkin pie but I didn’t love those pumpkin pies cause Celia got distracted while she was making them and forgot to add sugar. Turns out, sugar is a pretty important ingredient in pumpkin pie.

It seems counterintuitive, but hate is an important ingredient in love. Love wants what is good, and evil is the opposite of good, it’s bad on steroids. Evil describes something that’s wicked, dark, morally reprehensible.

  • Hitler was evil
  • Child abuse is evil
  • Oppression and exploitation of the helpless and defenseless is evil
  • Betrayal is evil

There is evil all around us. I’ve known people who left the faith because they couldn’t understand how a good God could allow evil. And it is a hard question, but the Bible, while not giving us easy answers, does give us answers. It tells us that evil isn’t from God, it’s from the devil. There is no evil in God. He can’t be tempted by evil. There is only goodness in God. Satan, on the other hand, has only evil in his dark heart – there is no goodness left in him.

Because God is love, He has to hate. Proverbs 6 lists seven things that God hates:

  • Haughtiness – looking down on other people
  • Lying
  • Killing the innocent (defenseless)
  • Premeditated evil (plotting to do wrong)
  • Running to do wrong – being attracted to evil and hurting people
  • A false witness – someone who spreads lies about someone else
  • One who sows discord in a family – Paul tells us to warn a divisive person twice and then have nothing to do with them. Division is a toxic cancer.

God hates things that hurt and divide and destroy His creation, especially people’s lives. God loves justice, so He hates injustice. God loves kindness so He hates cruelty. God loves goodness, so He hates evil. Hate is a vital part of love.

Sadly while some let go of the faith over the question of evil, God’s word tells us to do the opposite – hold that much tighter to the faith. Hold fast to what’s good! God is good! His promises are good! His plans for your life are good! His kingdom is good! His salvation is good! His heart is good! Hold fast, hold fast, hold fast! Don’t you dare walk away, don’t you dare let go…hold fast! It’s more important than ever to hold onto our good God when confronted with evil!

Surprise #3 – The evil we should hate the most is the evil that wants to take root in our own hearts

The front line fight against evil is against evil taking root in our own hearts. Paul warns us three times in these passages not to fight evil with evil.

14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.  Vs. 14

17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. Vs. 17

19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Vs 19

These verses all warn us: evil might happen to you, don’t let evil happen in you. At some point in your life people are going to do you wrong. It’s gonna happen. For many it has already happened. You’ve experienced betrayal. It’s come back to you that someone twisted your words or purposely misrepresented you to make you look bad or hurt your reputation. And it hurts. And makes us mad. And it should, it’s wrong, it’s evil.

We don’t need to be welcome mats or punching bags, but what we do need to be careful about our response. Because evil will be knocking on our door, hoping to get a foothold in our heart and once evil takes root in us, it will never confine itself to one situation.

I was reading in the Psalms the other day and came across Ps. 109:18

18 He clothed himself with cursing as his coat;may it soak into his body like water,like oil into his bones! Ps 109:18

In context someone loves cursing and they think they can put it on and take it off like a coat but eventually cursing seeps and soaks into the curser. The words we say are never just a coat we wear, they seep and soak into us, penetrating deep to the bone. Bitter words make bitter people. Angry words make angry people. Hateful words make hate-filled people. When you read about someone taking revenge on schoolmates or people he worked with, that evil act wasn’t the product of a day. It was building up in them until hate and revenge seeped and soaked into their being and rotted them from the inside out. Evil overcame them.

So bless! Speak words of life even over someone who has hurt you. Pray for them. Don’t repay them evil for evil but repay them kindness for evil and it’s possible God may use that kindness to burn their conscience and cause them to repent. But even if they don’t, you have entrusted them and vengeance to God and evil hasn’t gotten a foothold in your heart. You have overcome evil with good. Darkness with light. Hate with love.

Surprise #4 – Love hates evil enough to fight against evil

Paul closes this passage with this encouragement: 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Overcome is a fighting word. Love hates evil, therefore love fights against evil. When we can fight against an evil, we should do so. If we can stand up for someone who is being bullied, or wronged, we should do it. When we can speak up for those who can’t speak up for themselves, we should have the courage (rooted in love) to speak up.

Distinction: there are evil things and there are evil people.

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