“He who says he is in the light and hates his brother, is in the darkness even until now. He who loves his brother remains in the light, and there is no occasion for stumbling in him. But he who hates his brother is in the darkness, and walks in the darkness, and doesn’t know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.”
1 John 2:9-11
The key question in this section of the chapter is…
What does it mean to hate your brother or sister?
The Bible dictionary defines hate as…
“Hate derives from a strong dislike or ill will toward persons or things. As an emotional attitude, a person may oppose, detest, or despise contact with a thing or a person. Love and hatred often stand opposed. Wisdom says, there is “a time to love and a time to hate” ( Eccl 3:8 ). In the biblical record, every being may express or experience hate….. Hatred proves to be a tangible measurement of evil in the world. Its ugliness may extend in any direction. Any aversion of humans to others expresses hatred.”
Hatred is feelings of aversion towards someone. We shouldn’t have this generally speaking, and to dislike someone for no real or good reason, is not the mindset of the Christian person. It is a mindless kind of emotion that grips the heart and mind and turns bad feeling towards other people. It can come upon anyone and can be because of ill that has happened to a person, or because they experience something they disapprove of or dislike. God tells us not to hate….
What if someone does something so awful to you, something that severely damages you in some way and never admits their fault or repents or makes recompense? What if it provokes in us a strong sense of anger and even rage, at the injustice and offence that has been caused to us? At what point do we give up anger and totally forgive that person, and accept them back into life again?
Are there situations I can forgive, but things cannot revert back to the situation before? Friendships that are remade, but the intimacy is gone. Promises broken that cannot be mended. Differences of opinion that cannot be agreed upon, problems that cannot be solved…yet to put a stop to feelings and actions of hate…
The answer is probably yes to all these, but what is the mindset of the Christian who has been wronged woefully, and is struggling with strong anger and feelings of ill will. Some problems go on for a long time and are never addressed and then one day, it all may will blow up and the whole cascade of grief will fall down. Or, there will be a moment of sinful response to end the feelings between two people. Or, a situation will develop and there will be an act of wrong done, that cannot be put right. The ultimate hate crime against a person, is murder and this is so final and so hard to forgive and move on from, yet as Christians we have the power within to do so, although it will take time and much heartache.
We cannot change circumstances or the thoughts and feelings of another person, we are only responsible for our own. I may have to deal with my feelings and learn to live with them, for the rest on my life. Sin always brings terrible consequences and we all suffer in some ways from the fallout of our sin. However, God says if we confess our wrong and turn from it and repent, He will forgive us, straight away and never bring it up again. This is God’s response, and similarly for the godly person who reacts in this way.
If someone wrongs us badly, it helps to remember that we have also wronged them, or at least other people in similar situations. We might think is wasn’t so bad as what they have done to us, but the principle still stands. It will take time to deal with our emotions in cases of extreme trauma, but we will always be working toward that end. Forgiveness and peace.
What if the person is not sorry, and never repents or offers us any regret or sorrow about what the have done?
There are people who God is angry with all the time. God is angry with the wicked, who refuse Him and hate Him and continue in sin and disobedience. God’s wrath abides in the ungodly who continue in their ungodly ways, even when they are warned. There will be people who will never repent and never find peace with God. This is a serious topic and causes a lot of heartache and distress to many…
We are not God.
God is love and has also wrath towards all wickedness. He holds the two seeming extremes in perfect balance. He never makes mistakes and is the perfect judge, for He is perfect and the upholder of all righteousness. He hates sin with a perfect hatred, because of what it does to His creation and people. Sin has ruined our world and ruined us, but we just don’t realise how deep that truth goes. We are so contaminated, we are not in the position to judge. The fact is we have to trust God in His judgments.
“The men turned from there, and went toward Sodom, but Abraham stood yet before The Lord. Abraham drew near, and said, “Will you consume the righteous with the wicked? What if there are fifty righteous within the city? Will you consume and not spare the place for the fifty righteous who are in it? Be it far from you to do things like that, to kill the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous should be like the wicked. May that be far from you. Shouldn’t the Judge of all the earth do right?”
God is holy, and He will carry out His holy will in the perfections of His judgments. Our position is far from that state, and we are never in a position to judge. Similarly with vengeance. Vengeance belongs to God for these same reasons. Our remit is to set aside our anger, rage and malice and leave it all with the righteous judgment of God. This is our faith.
We can be so angry we think we hate the person, but when the anger dies down, and we deal with it, we can see more clearly and cope better with what has happened. Our emotions get the better of us and we do not make sound judgments about situations. We leave them with God, who works out all things in conformity with His will. He also works out all things for the good of his people and for the salvation of His elect people. We rest on Him.
This is the only workable answer to anger. We cannot cope with these strong emotions, and work out the judgment, so we leave it in the hands of hIm to take away all hate and ill will, even for those who have hurt us and damaged us badly and irreparably. God can fix anything and turn anything around and make an irreparable human situation glorious for the sake of His glory and our eternal good. To lay hold on this fact and exercise our faith in God to work out the entire situation, is life and peace. We don’t need the anger any more. We find hate subsides and our heart returns to the soft heart of love, we are required to have.
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, just like I have loved you; that you also love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
We cannot say we love God and hate others. This is discussed further on in this beautiful book of 1 John. Just remember how Jesus loved you and gave Himself for you when you hated Him and was His enemy, for no reason. No one can surpass that love and no one can quench that love that Jesus has for His people. So if He can love unlovely us, surely we can do the same for other sinful people just like us.
In this world, not everything can be made right, and situations cannot always be resolved, but we can live and love in peace and the security of knowing that God is in control and His love conquers all hatred.
“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God, and knows God. He who doesn’t love doesn’t know God, for God is love. By this God’s love was revealed in us, that God has sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son as the atoning sacrifice for our sins. Beloved, if God loved us in this way, we also ought to love one another.”
1 John 4:7-11
Consider how God cares for ignoble us..
“Because you have made the LORD your dwelling— my refuge, the Most High— no evil will befall you, no plague will approach your tent. For He will command His angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. They will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. You will tread on the lion and cobra; you will trample on the young lion and the serpent.”
Surely there is no love like the love of Jesus and His care for us, once His avowed enemies… in our heart we know we must not hate, but love and reach out to the evil-doer, and be prepared to forgive and help them. This is God’s way….
“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”