WHAT IS HATRED?
Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen. And He has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must love their brother and sister (1 John 4: 20-21).
What comes to mind when you read the word “hate”? Do you think of actions like insulting, swearing, ignoring or deliberately harming the person you hate? Hatred may include treating someone cruelly, for example, but the Bible’s version of hatred is more explicit than that.
Jesus connected anger with murder.
You have heard that it was said to people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment (Matt. 5: 21-22a).
Hatred, like anger, begins in the heart. When one is angry with someone, for whatever reason, one has an underlying attitude of contempt. It is impossible for one person to make another angry. “You make me angry!” is not true. A person chooses to respond in anger when another provokes him. If he dwells on the offence long enough, he will begin to hate the offender.
However, hatred is more than an attitude towards another person. One does not have to hold malice in the heart to hate. Hatred is as much indifference to another’s need as ill-will is towards that person.
Jesus told a parable in Matt. 25, which illustrates this point. At the end of the age, when He gathers the nations for judgment, He will measure righteousness by an unexpected standard. How did the individual treat his brother? God recognises that people express their love for Him by the way they treat one another. If someone sees a brother in need and does nothing about it, He interprets their neglect as hatred.
“But isn’t that a bit harsh?” you may ask. In what way can we show our love for God? We cannot do anything for God to express our love for Him except love His people. How can we love His people? We can do whatever we can to make their lives comfortable. Jesus said that we ought to clothe the naked, feed the hungry, visit the sick and the prisoner and relieve suffering wherever possible. He does not expect us to save the world. However, there are simple things we can do meet people’s need where we are.
Assisting people in need does not mean that we must only give them money or goods. There are many ways to show God’s love to those who cross our path every day. A kind word or a word of encouragement goes a long way to lift the spirits of a disheartened individual. We can offer practical help in many different ways by giving our time and attention sometimes just to listen. A listening ear often does wonders for a downcast soul.
What does Jesus ask of us, His children? He wants us to be aware of the people around us. We are often so self-absorbed that we are oblivious of the pain others suffer. We have much to give if we turn our attention away from ourselves. Becoming aware of others and intervening where we can is the right thing to do.
However, Jesus did not instruct us to become busybodies. We need to respect the dignity and privacy of others. We must step in and help only when people value our assistance, not when we become interfering or controlling.
We can just as easily steal from another when we withhold help from him as when we take what does not belong to us. We need to be aware that we express our love for Jesus by our obedience to His commands. He summed up every detail of His desire for our lives in the two greatest commandments:
On one occasion and expert in the law stood up to test Jesus, ’Teacher,’ he asked, ‘what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ ‘What is written in the Law?’ He replied. ‘How do you read it?’
He answered, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ ‘You have answered correctly,’ Jesus replied. ’Do this and you will live,’ (Luke 10: 25-28).
Scripture is 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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