Yesterday we discussed that true love that does not depend upon a reciprocal relationship but loves the unlovely, the unqualified, the ungrateful, the selfish, and the difficult. This is the character of true love, and it is always evidence that a new life has come, the life born of God. It is laying aside our own pride, and loving others the way Christ loves us. “We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death.” (1 Jn 3:14)
We must ask ourselves if our heart burns with hatred toward another. John tells us why: “Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. By this we know love, because [Jesus] laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.” (1 Jn 3:15-18)
If we feel hatred in our heart, John says could invariably, lash out into murder—as it did in that first scene between Cain and Abel. Wherever hate is, murder is a possibility, and, in the eyes of God, it is as good as done. God reads the heart, so He does not need to wait for the actions. This is what the Lord Jesus Himself taught: “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire.” (Matt 5:21-22)
What does it reveal when a Christian hates? Let’s be honest and admit that it is all too frequently true. Christians hate one another and show hatred toward each other and toward others outside of Christ. But John tells us, “you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him”, meaning that the eternal life that Christ has given is no longer in control of that individual; it is no longer “abiding” in him.
This relationship of abiding is an additional one to that of the indwelling of God’s life. It does not mean that people cease to be Christians when they hate, but they cease to act like Christians. They are no longer living like the Christians that they have become. Eternal life is no longer abiding in them, and they have slipped back into the control of the devil. It is not that love is not available to them but that it does not abide in them. If we hate someone, we have become the temporary slave of Satan. We are God’s child doing the devil’s work, and we need to face it on that level. We need to keep in mind that we are Christ’s ambassadors (2 Cor 5:20). Are we showing the world His love?
What is the way to control hatred? For the world in general, there can be no answer apart from the regenerating work of the Lord Jesus Christ and the cross of Calvary. It takes the power of God to break the power of hate. But what about with Christians? Do we resort to the folly of trying to suppress it? Do we bite our lips and say nothing but go away with our heart burning, seething, miserable, and unhappy? If so, we are still under the control of the evil one, and, sooner or later, he will take us farther than we want to go.
The only control is what we read about here in the epistle of John. Judge this thing. Deal with it as God sees it. Call it what it is—hatred—originating from the devil. Then confess it, agree with God about it, tell Him so (1 Jn 1:9). We will then receive the answering power of love from the Son of God who dwells in our heart. The fount of the Holy Spirit is ever ready to pour out words of love and appreciation, approval, and acceptance in place of hatred. Until we live on these terms, we have not begun to demonstrate the life that is in Jesus Christ. It is when we demonstrate His love through our actions, that others see His light in us and are drawn to the same love and salvation that we have. That is why the exhortation comes: “My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth” (1 Jn 3:18).
Lord, may I be drawn to You to understand anew the power of love over hate, and the need to be open and honest with myself in these areas. Help me not to excuse these attitudes but to remember that every manifestation of hate is an attack against You and Your rule in my life. Lord, I seek Your will and ask that You fill me to overflowing with Your love and grace, so that I am the ambassador You desire me to be.