Whoever says he is in the Light and [yet] hates his brother [Christian, born-again child of God his Father] is in darkness even until now. Whoever loves his brother [believer] abides (lives) in the Light, and in It or in him there is no occasion for stumbling or cause for error or sin. But he who hates (detests, despises) his brother [in Christ] is in darkness and walking (living) in the dark; he is straying and does not perceive or know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes. —1 John 2:9–11
Hate is an extremely strong and harsh word. Any discussion among believers about hating other Christians would lead most of them to say, “I don’t believe I have ever hated anyone.” If we think about these words of John, however, perhaps he didn’t mean hate as we think of it—feeling great hostility or animosity toward someone. Perhaps our form of hatred today is more like indifference. We don’t really dislike people, but we don’t care enough to help them when they have troubles and problems.
“Most of the loving I see today in the church is based on convenience,” someone told me recently. He went on to say that we will reach out to others as long as it’s convenient or doesn’t demand too much time or effort.
This opens a wide door of opportunity for Satan to separate us from those who most need our love. Jesus commanded us to love each other. In John 13:34–35, He said that people would recognize us as His disciples by our expressions of love toward one another. Perhaps one reason they don’t say that about many of today’s Christians is because too often we’re unwilling to go out of our way to meet the needs of others.
Love is an action verb. If you love others, you do things for them. To hate (in the biblical sense) is to do nothing or to turn away. To make it worse, you judge and criticize others and think, If they really loved God, they wouldn’t be in such a predicament.
You need to see that if you practice God’s “love walk,” you not only grow yourself, but you enable others to grow. The devil can’t do you much harm if you truly walk in loving relationship with others.
In my book Battlefield of the Mind, I shared the story of how I was extremely sick during my fourth pregnancy. When I prayed for healing, God reminded me that I had criticized another woman in our church who was always tired and sick during her pregnancy. Now, here I was in the same circumstances. I realized how wrong I had been and repented. But it took more than repenting—it also became a time of learning for me. God forced me to realize how often I had judged or criticized others because they didn’t measure up to the standards I thought they ought to live by.
All of us make mistakes. All of us have weaknesses. God didn’t call us to point out those weaknesses to the person (or worse, to someone else), but He did call us to care—to show Christ’s love in any way we can. The Bible tells us to be tenderhearted, understanding, and forgiving. That’s how we can win over satanic attacks. Paul says it this way: “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God [do not offend or vex or sadden Him], by Whom you were sealed (marked, branded as God’s own, secured) for the day of redemption (of final deliverance through Christ from evil and the consequences of sin). Let all bitterness and indignation and wrath (passion, rage, bad temper) and resentment (anger, animosity) and quarreling (brawling, clamor, contention) and slander (evil-speaking, abusive or blasphemous language) be banished from you, with all malice (spite, ill will, or baseness of any kind). And become useful and helpful and kind to one another, tenderhearted (compassionate, understanding, loving-hearted), forgiving one another [readily and freely], as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:30–32).
God used these verses to help me see that being Jesus’ disciple means being kind to others, tenderhearted, and forgiving. I also realized it meant overlooking their weaknesses and shortcomings. If we truly love others as Christ loves us, it isn’t difficult at all.
Lord Jesus, I want to love others, and I want to be kind and caring. I also know that I fail at times. In Your name, I ask You to forgive me, and enable me to forgive others who hurt me or don’t live up to my standards. Amen.