Stephanie Ehmke, MA, LPC
"Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good."
Romans 12:9 (NIV)
I was stumped this week on what to write. There’s been a lot going on in my world and finding time to sit and meditate on life and stories that reveal the beauty of Scripture has been hard to find. Still, I want to be consistent, so I prayed, “Lord, what do you want to say thing week?” I then began flipping through the pages of my Bible to see if anything would jump out. Nothing. I’m not one to try and force God to speak (as he never bends to my will), so I moved on to another task that required using my Bible. When I was finished, my Bible lay open to the book of Romans, and the above verse jumped out at me. “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good” (Romans 12:9, NIV). At first glance, it seems like a great verse to know. Who doesn’t want to love fully and sincerely? And of course, it makes sense to hate evil and cling to good. Seems pretty elementary. So, what does God want me to write about? A few days have gone by since I’ve been chewing on it, but today’s thoughts came together that I think I’m supposed to share. I have no clever story or funny life event to wrap it in, just my thoughts on the verse. I hope you will stay with me in them because I feel like this verse holds much of the answer to the brokenness in our world today. Sincere love, a brotherly love, according to the Greek term used in Scripture “wears no disguise.” It is real, open, and according to the NASB translation “without hypocrisy.” Love, quite simply put, loves all of someone. This is why I believe the Apostle Paul, author of Romans, followed the phrase to love sincerely with the charge to hate what is evil and cling to what is good. In all my time on this earth, I have yet to meet anyone, myself included, who does not live within the tension of both saint and sinner. Of course, we don’t call the things in our life that dishonor God evil, but let’s admit that we all have brokenness within us, right? This is the human condition. Very few people are all good or all evil, which is why it is so hard for us to love sincerely. There is so much ugliness in our world. To make sense of it, we try to demonize people as evil for their views on politics, racial injustice, COVID vaccines, addiction, abuse, etc. But what if God is asking us who follow Jesus to live differently? What if he wants us to sincerely, without hypocrisy, love those who are doing evil by hating their actions and yet clinging to the fact that they are still made in the image of God? Can we cling to the belief that God can still bring good even out of evil intent? I thought about this more and more and thought of all the people I know who are afraid to come to church for fear of being judged for their past or even for their present brokenness. I can’t say these people are always wrong in their fears. What if we, you and I, became Christ-followers who lived and loved differently? What if we welcomed those who are broken and chose to love them sincerely, not judging their sins but clinging to the good we see in them? What might God do in our world if we, his children, actually began to welcome those around us into his kingdom instead of shaming them out of it? I may not know your personal Jesus story, but here is what I do know. Jesus welcomed me in my past brokenness and he still welcomes me in my present struggles. His love changed me and I want to extend that same love to others. Join me! For Your Reflection… It’s hard to see the good in someone when we know they are doing evil or sinning. Thankfully, it’s not our job to judge them, but simply to love them. Who do you need to love and see the good in, even in the midst of their brokenness? Spoiler Alert: You can’t love them without God’s help. Ask him and he will help you.