The Second Error Exposed: The Darkness of Hate (2:9–11)
Turn on the news, and you will encounter an overwhelming amount of hatred and violence spread throughout the world. My question for us today is, “As Christians, are we free from the problem of hate in our churches, workplaces, schools, or families?” Unfortunately, hatred hides behind the seats of every church, crouching at the door of the heart of Christians who do not realize that this is the biggest barrier in their intimacy with God.
You may say, “Why?” Well, the answer is simple: it is the easiest to rationalize. People hurt us unjustly. There is no excuse for what they do, they cannot defend themselves. The uncle rapes his niece. The father abandons his children. The wife cheats on her husband. The Christian brother we recommend ends up stealing from the company. The list can go on and on. We are hurt, and if we do not forgive, we may end up bitter, angry, and “entitled” to feel this way.
2nd Error: “Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness. Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble. But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them” (2:9–11) NIV.
What is the opposite of love? Hate. What is the opposite of light? Darkness. Love opens the doors to fellowship, hate closes them. The Christian who hates his brother or sister is in darkness, walks in darkness, cannot understand God’s will (does not know where he or she is going), and is spiritually blind. Do you think that these words describe a person who is close to God?
At this point, you may be asking yourself, “What does hatred look like?” As we said before, the difficulty we face is that we tend to rationalize this sin. To help you realize how easy it is to have this problem and not see it, let us look at some practical examples:
1. Cold Indifference: This is what we do to people who hurt us. We give them the cold shoulder. We have no intention of giving them the time of day until they come to us and seek an apology for what they have done to hurt us.
2. Vengeance: This often manifests as passive-aggressive behavior. Because they hurt me, I will not help them taking out the trash, I will not help with the dishes, and I will not give any verbal nor physical affection.
3. Unforgiving spirit: Has someone in your past rejected you in such a way that you still hurt when you think about it? Do you become critical of people in your past the minute their names are mentioned? Have you worked hard all your life not to become like your parents? Are there people in your past upon whom you would enjoy taking revenge? Have you made a pastime out of scheming about how you could get back at them or embarrass them publicly? If you can say yes to any of these questions, then you wrestle with an unforgiving spirit.
4. Bitterness: Usually beneath an unforgiving spirit there is a root of bitterness, which Hebrews warns can defile many of those around us and keep us from enjoying the forgiving grace of God (Hebrews 12:15).
Are you troubled by any of these feelings? My dear brother and sister, forgiveness will lead you back to the light. Ask the Holy Spirit to show you if there is darkness in your life, and run away from it as soon as possible. Remember that God’s arms are always wide open and that He is just and faithful to forgive.