HATRED IS DOING NOTHING
Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness. Anyone who loves his brother or sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble. But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. He does not know where he is going because the darkness has blinded him. (1 John 2: 9-11)
Isn’t it strange how many of us have moved the goalposts to soothe our conscience so that we don’t have to do anything about the rifts and schisms we are part of in our families or in the church family. But John is very clear about the standards within the family.
What are darkness and light and what are the implications of “walking in darkness” or “walking in the light”? Darkness is essentially the absence of light. Light reveals and makes visible what is there. When a light is turned off or a lamp extinguished in a room, everything that the light revealed is no longer visible. It is still there but it can’t be seen.
Before we came to faith in Christ, Jesus said that we were in darkness, walking in ignorance of God and His ways. Ignorance, for example, is a form of mental darkness. Our minds have not been informed. Unbelief keeps us in spiritual darkness. Everything we can know about God has been revealed but we have not received it and therefore remain ignorant about Him, His requirements for us and the life He promises us when we return to Him.
True light is to be found in God and in His Word. Paul said that what can be known about Him has been revealed through creation, but people deliberately choose to ignore what creation is telling them and choose to believe their own lies. David was conscious of the unceasing voice of creation, calling out the greatness and the glory of God in silent witness, day and night.
The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the end of the world. (Psa. 19: 1-4a)
Wilful sin keeps people in darkness. Although they have the voice of creation and the voice of conscience, they choose to remain in the dark because they love their sin.
This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. (John 3: 19-20)
It is easy for believers to sit back and think that we are okay because we believe in Jesus. We are not in darkness any longer. But Jesus warns us, “Not so fast!” From His perspective, walking in darkness is as much about not doing the right thing as it is about doing the wrong thing. We can congratulate ourselves because we don’t hate our brother or sister, either in our natural family or in our Christian family.
How many times did He fall foul of the Pharisees because He healed people on the Sabbath? On one occasion He released a woman from a disabling condition that kept her bend over and unable to look up for eighteen years. The synagogue leader announced to the people:
‘There are six days for work. So come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath.’ The Lord answered him, ‘You hypocrites! Doesn’t each of you on the Sabbath untie your ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give it water? Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?’ (Luke 13: 15-16)
For Jesus not to do anything for her just because it was the Sabbath was as wrong as doing something really wicked.
To John, then, walking in darkness by hating one’s brother or sister was as much about ignoring their need as it was about actively holding grudges against them. In chapter 3 of his letter, he spells it out quite clearly.
If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. (1 John 3: 17-18)
When we choose to ignore a need we can do something about, we are as much in darkness as the pagan who bows down to an idol and calls it “God”.
Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
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