“Now love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.” Romans 12:9-11
The culture we live in is big on loving. Love songs are almost always the most popular ones. Romantic movies are usually hits – even if many guys are dragged to them kicking and screaming!
The major message about love that bombards us though, is not one of romance, but a flashback to a story much older – one that began in the Garden of Eden: “Love yourself!” was the deceit behind the Serpent’s words to Eve. In effect, she was told: “God doesn’t love you, or He wouldn’t withhold things from you. You’ve got to take care of yourself.”
It sounded right then, and it can sound right now. In fact, a Christianized version of this lie has run rampant: “You can’t love others if you don’t love yourself first.” I defy anyone to find that in the Bible.
In Scripture, we are told to be forgetful of ourselves and to hate the sin that is all wrapped up in self-love. Romans 12 says that to truly love our brothers and sisters, we must first hate our own sin. We’re to be zealous for spiritual things and to disdain the sinful desires that threaten to usurp our affection for God.
Not that we should be ascetics, flogging our bodies and hating our material selves. God has made us one unit: spiritual and physical. Rather, the hatred should be toward the sin that can destroy us and our relationships. We mustn’t just hate the guilty feelings, but the sin itself. Then we can truly love deeply and sincerely.
Lord Jesus, I am so quick to love myself and my sin and to believe that first lie -- that You are withholding good from me. Forgive me, cleanse me, empower me to hate sin and love You and those around me. Amen.
What sins do you cling to? Are there ways in which you believe God is holding out on you? Take five minutes right now to have an honest conversation with God. As you do, remember to look to the forgiveness Jesus purchased for you and the power He promised to transform you.
What are your thoughts on this devotion? Make a comment. Encourage others.