Why Don’t You Just Quit?
Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Romans 12:9
I grew up in a Christian environment and somewhere along the line, I picked up this clever catchphrase – Love God, Hate Sin. I remember thinking that sounded simple. All I have to do is remember those four words and I’ll always make the right choices. It is of course, a good, simple concept. It is not however, easy to live out in reality.
We often oversimplify things though, particularly when it comes to those issues with which we don’t struggle. Occasionally, when I speak to an audience who’s never experienced alcohol or drug addiction, someone will be brave enough to say what a lot of people are probably thinking. It’s so simple. Why doesn’t the addict just stop using drugs? It’s so stupid. Just quit. The addict’s life would be much better if he’d just stop acting like an idiot.
Those who say such things aren’t wrong. The addict should quit. His behavior is stupid. The problem is, the addict knows this, but knowing and doing aren’t the same. If we’re honest, most of us have some repetitive, self-destructive behavior that others, who don’t struggle as we do, would find ridiculous. We should all just quit doing those things which cause us misery. It’s not as simple as just knowing we should quit though, is it?
In today’s passage, when Paul said – Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good – I don’t think he was oversimplifying things with a cute catchphrase. Rather, I think he was insisting that if we want the life God made us for, then we must consciously and purposefully choose it. The passage is filled with action verbs: love, serve, rejoice, contribute, and bless. Living by faith is a conscious, purposeful action.
The mistake we make, is that we take the simple idea and commit it to knowledge, assuming or hoping that is enough. It’s not. Knowing and doing are not the same. If our plan to change is simply to decide that we’re never going to do a thing again, because we’ve made up our mind not to, we’re probably going to fail. Simply deciding in our mind isn’t a plan.
Abhorring evil is a chosen way of life that avoids sin. Holding fast to what is good means building a life around what God wants, not what we want. This is simple in concept, but if it only remains a concept, we’ll never do it. Faith means action.