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.
Hold fast to what is good.
When I first read this phrase, my mind goes to decisions we make when the tide is against us and we might be tempted to take an ‘any means necessary’ path to our destination. Even then, we are to resist evil and choose good. There are times in our lives when we are to make hard choices for good, even when we know it will get us nowhere. Even when we’re sure if we chose something less than good, we might be assured of the outcome we want. We are to resist the temptation to compromise values for victories. We are to choose integrity–that our values match our actions. Yet, to ‘hold fast’ is more than just ‘doing the right thing’ or ‘not doing the wrong thing.’
The English translation here misses the intensity of the Greek. We might render it “be glued to that which is pure goodness,” be welded to it, or united. Our decisions to choose the better path are one thing, but they are to be out of a desire to be united with goodness itself–united with God Himself.
I remember when I was young and I first noticed my mother’s engagement and wedding ring. Unlike those of my friends’ moms, they were welded together. When I asked her why, she explained that the rings were made from gold of different carats and the lower carat wedding ring (and thus the harder one) had begun damaging the higher quality engagement ring. The solution was to weld them together, to unify them.
On our own, we can get tempted to resist against goodness, to chip away at it with our sin and selfishness. We get tempted to compromise because we are hard-hearted, but by the Spirit’s work in our hearts and lives, we can become one with goodness itself–God Himself. He wants to become so woven through our hearts and lives that we don’t need to be told to hate what is evil and hold fast to the good. Why? Because we couldn’t imagine doing anything else.