When we run into Paul’s language that has an eternal perspective instead of a temporal perspective, we can find ourselves confronting the eternal when the temporal doesn’t make sense. When trouble and heartache hit us, we find ourselves asking, “Why?” What would it take for you to have everything temporal just right? Would your comfortable living be at the expense of other’s temporal experience? God is focused on the eternal. So much so that He made a way for us sinners by allowing His Son to die (temporal) as the propitiation for our sin.
Reading this passage, I believe that the Bible translators into English did not capture the original meaning well. “Love” and “sincere” are actually together, without a verb between them. Sincere can be described as genuine or unhypocritical. “Hate” is almost a weak translation of the word used by Paul. The word can be described is a diabolical or detestable and implies an utterly complete form of evil.
Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.
But if we look at the original we can translate it as:
Genuine love utterly detests evil and clings to what is good.
When translated this way it becomes clear that reflecting God’s love towards people is of the utmost importance. We cannot be friends of the world because when we lose God’s love, we are actually reflecting evil towards people. Friendship with the world means enmity towards God. ()
So it is very easy to say, “I love you.” But it is very difficult to display and live out how we love people. This means we are loving in truth. We must speak the truth, even (especially) if that truth conflicts with the “truth” of the world.
Here Paul uses a different type of love, it is a family love towards others. In essence, what this is telling us is “out-do one another in showing honor to others.” Lift up one another. Not to stick your nose up and see how to become above others. But to look around, lift others up in honor, and work to keep them high in honor. Look at the interests of others, and work toward bettering their interests. Not that you are not supposed to have interests yourself, but to look around you and ask, “How can I pick them up today? How can I show them that I appreciate them?” No specific recipe was given here. Maybe it is a phone call, maybe a note, maybe a positive hello and a hug. While it has a competition phrasing, it isn’t about some prize. It is about outdoing one another to pour love on one another.
We will continue to look further at this next week in . For next week look at . Think of the use of pursuing in these verses. It is interesting to see how God is calling us to reach out to those around us.
9 Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. (ESV)
4 You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. (ESV)
18 Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. (ESV)
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. (ESV)
12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. (ESV)
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. (ESV)