Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; hold to that which is good.
Now we come to the great central principle of the Christian life in its social relations among men - true love. And, as the apostle addresses Church-members, he paints this love, by a few vivid strokes, as they owe it to their fellow-members, and also to those that are without.
I. First, as members of Christ, they are to love one another.
1. The ethical character of this love. It is holy. Not a mere sentimental tenderness, but a love that abhors the evil, in whomsoever found, and cleaves only to the good (comp. James 3:17, "first pure," etc.).
2. The manifestations of the love. Tender affection, as of the members of one loving family; self-sacrificing respect, so contrary to the spirit which asks, "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" - zealous to practise this regard for others with a diligent industry; animated to this diligence by the fervour of the spiritual life; sanctifying the love and service by loving and serving them in Christ.
3. The supports of such love. The exultant joy of Christian hope, in view of that appearing of our Lord; the patient endurance of trial and pain, by the power of that hope; the abiding fellowship with God, which ever rekindles the hope and makes it holy.
4. The practical working of this love in the matters of the life that now is. Relief of needy ones, as being the needy ones of God's household; hospitality to all who for the Lord's sake have left their home and rest.
5. The forbearance of this love. When, unhappily, even Christian brethren misunderstand and strive and persecute, they are still to be loved and blessed; not for any provocation is cursing to be rendered back.
6. The sympathies of the love. A real and manifested joy, in sympathy with rejoicing ones; a real and manifested sorrow, in sympathy with sorrowing ones.
7. The unity of love. Of the same mind.
8. The humility of love. Not high, ambitious aspirations, but willingness for lowly work; and to this end, not serf-conceited wisdom, but the heart of a little child.
II. Secondly, as showing forth Christ to men, they are to love even those that are without.
1. No revenge to be allowed. Think of their temptations to old habits and practices.
2. Honourable conduct to be strictly maintained. Yes, even with the emphatically "heathen man.
3. Peace to be sought with all. On our side at least it is possible, and so the sanctities of the Christian's own heart shall not be violated.
4. Again, no vengeance towards those whose crimes may seem to cry for vengeance upon them. No, not even in the way of justice, for a higher One is Judge, and all wrath must be left to him, whose very wrath is love; and, in truth, our rising wrath itself must be transformed to love, a love which shall even feed and give drink to the enemy in his distress. And shall not this shame his heart? and his shame may be to him for salvation. So shall the evil not conquer us, but be itself conquered by the good. Who is sufficient for these things?" The high perfection of this Christian love seems far beyond our reach. But it has been shown forth once, in him who said, "I have overcome the world." Yes, its evil was vanquished by his sacrifice of love. And, through him, we may conquer too. May the living Christ be ours, and his grace shall be sufficient! - T.F.L.
Parallel VersesKJV: Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.