“Whosoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life remaining in him.”
Hatred is a strong emotion and we reserve the language for extreme dislike and opposition. When does opposition and antagonism become hatred? Hatred is as much an action as an emotion. We think badly of people and feel dislike of them and then say of do something to hurt them or put them down. The extreme end of this emotion and deed, is the act of murder. We can physically murder someone through killing, and we can murder their character and reputation through gossip.
It is very easy for us to fall into this kind of hateful mindset and we justify ourselves so effectively and blame the offending person, rather than checking the thought processes and attitudes in ourselves that lead to murderous behaviour in deed or word. The Word of God is very clear, that hatred is murder. Hatred leads us down the road to perdition and ends the life, the character and the reputation of another person.
How can we hate our sisters and brothers in Christ?
We can be so caught up with contentions about faith and doctrine that we tip over into hostility and hate. We can get so annoyed with people about their particular stance on an issue that is important to us, that we ignore the human and jump on a band wagon of aggression and opposition. It all ends in ill-will and bad feeling. We become separated from Christian friends and end up with a huge gulf between us and them. Us and them becomes the normal and we have disunity and even outright war.
“Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, outcry, and slander be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tender hearted, forgiving each other, just as God also in Christ forgave you.”
The Apostle is clear in this verse that no one who indulges in these sentiments of hate has any part in the kingdom of God. There is no eternal life in the contentious person, as they have allowed hate to infiltrate their mind and heart and even their actions and words, and the Spirit of God does not blend with these attitudes in the family of God. Eternal life is a life of love towards God and other people. There often seems precious little of it in the church and so much judgmentalism, that people are oppressed and hurt and left out. This should not be.
“But refuse foolish and ignorant questionings, knowing that they generate strife. The Lord’s servant must not quarrel, but be gentle toward all, able to teach, patient, in gentleness correcting those who oppose him.”
2 Timothy 2:23-25
We must be filled with gentleness and not the natural-born harshness we all possess. We should put love first and be able to constrain others who are against us, which should not be children of God opposing each other. We seek the bond of peace.
“I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to walk worthily of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and humility, with patience, bearing with one another in love, being eager to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”