Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honour. Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are. Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’ No, ‘if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Can love hate? Well, love (according to Paul) hates what is evil. Indeed, to hate what dehumanizes, what demeans, what divides, or that which tells us that others are lesser, or of lesser importance or value than ourselves is a loving discipline. Likewise, to allow others to treat people, or the planet, with contempt is not a loving act. To allow people to continue doing that which is evil without calling it out, resisting it, or challenging it is not an act of love, but capitulation, and it ignores our responsibility to do that which is right.
Paul moves often in the letters ascribed to him in our Christian Scriptures, between vast cosmic theological concepts and very practical advice - our passage from Romans Chapter 12 for today offers both. We are told be loving, to hold fast to that which is good, and to hate evil - and hating evil means we bring a different way of responding. As we follow the way of love, the way of Christ, we are called to do good, to do loving acts, to care, to offer practical help to all in need, even our enemies. What they may need will vary from situation to situation, but our inspiration and the foundation of all we do should be genuine love.
Evil cannot drive out evil, only love can do that, otherwise all we do is add evil to evil - even with the best intentions - we are called to transform the world through love.
Go forth into the world in peace.
Be of good courage.
Hold fast that which is good.
Render to no one evil for evil.
Strengthen the fainthearted.
Support the weak.
Help the afflicted.
Show love to everyone.
Love and serve the Lord,
rejoicing in the power of the Holy Spirit;
and the blessing of almighty God,
the Father, the + Son, and the Holy Spirit,
be among you and remain with you always. Amen.
Source: Book of Common Prayer, 1892, 1928, found at A Collection of Prayer