Heartbeat of Love and Hate. “I Love to Hate!” “I Hate to Love!” 1 John 3:11-18.

Human nature we say has multiple intense emotions attached to it, a couple of those intense feelings condensed into 4 letter words are love and hate.

If it is justified that we can just happen to instinctively or naturally love a person or an activity, can the same logic be used to justify hatred?

To understand if that is the case or not, we need to begin by defining hatred.

Both Merriam Webster, as well as Oxford dictionary, define hate as ‘extreme disgust’ and ‘intense dislike’ respectively.

Of course, both the adjectives mentioned here are pretty vague because it is difficult to decide what level of extremity or what measure of intensity can be termed as extreme or intense, the constant question comes, what parameters qualify this threshold?

Love and hate are two parallel emotions that are always used together. One needs to experience the extremes of hate/love to know entirely about them. 

Hate is defined as a powerful feeling of not liking somebody/something at all. It’s a negative emotion that affects our rationales and way of thinking, and it comes out of anger, hostility and resentment. Hate harms the hater as well as the hated person, and it makes life more miserable.

In simple words where a feeling of mild disgust or of mild dislike makes us uncomfortable till that extent which we end up having a subconscious wanting to harm or cancel or just eliminate the target, that’s where the mild feeling gets converted into hatred. 

Think about this. Our mental defense mechanisms are self-protective in nature, we subconsciously end up equipping the tool of greatest personal reassurance.

Hence, if we have already devalued the image a person or a group in our mind on the basis of what we have ‘heard’, we confirm the bias against something that we already have heard to reinforce and reassure our beliefs we feed ourselves with even more information to back it.

Aristotle states that ‘whereas anger is customarily felt toward individuals, hatred is often felt towards groups…. hate is based on the generalized attribution of action to the basic traits and features of a person’.

Hence if one day we experience or get to know that an individual having a specific trait, be it color or religion or anything similar we rather than disliking that specific instance end up reinforcing our stereotype that we have made and label the group showing that trait to be potential causes of the same actions. 

Rather than hate, one should always spread love and bring positivity in their and others’ lives. One should not let hatred consume them as it will only have both serious and severe adverse effects on their physical and mental health.

Hence, I have brought these love – hate quotes to yours and mine attention to “put an elbow into our ribcages” and remind us to spread happiness and love!

“Hate, it has caused a lot of problems in this world but has not solved one yet.” Maya Angelou

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” Martin Luther King Jr.
Source: A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches

“I have decided to stick to love…Hate is too great a burden to bear.” Martin Luther King Jr.
Source: A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches

“Somewhere between love and hate lies confusion, misunderstanding and desperate hope.” Shannon L. Alder

“When we don’t know who to hate, we hate ourselves.” Chuck Palahniuk
Source: Invisible Monsters

“I imagine one of the reasons people cling to their hates so stubbornly is because they sense, once hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with pain.” James Baldwin
Source: The Fire Next Time

“I will permit no man to narrow and degrade my soul by making me hate him.” Booker T. Washington

“Hating people because of their color is wrong. And it doesn’t matter which color does the hating. It’s just plain wrong.” Muhammad Ali

“Throughout life people will make you mad, disrespect you and treat you bad. Let God deal with the things they do, cause hate in your heart will consume you too.” Will Smith

It is our love for one another that lets our light shine unto the world and boldly states we are Christians!

In 1 John 3:11-18 John states if one is indifferent or hates a brother or sister then either one is not saved or is out of fellowship with God.

1 John 3:11-18Amplified Bible

11 For this is the message which you [believers] have heard from the beginning [of your relationship with Christ], that we should [unselfishly] love and seek the best for one another; 12 and not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother [Abel]. And why did he murder him? Because Cain’s deeds were evil, and his brother’s were righteous.

13 Do not be surprised, believers, if the world hates you. 14 We know that we have passed out of death into Life, because we love the brothers and sisters. He who does not love remains in [spiritual] death. 15 Everyone who hates (works against) his brother [in Christ] is [at heart] a murderer [by God’s standards]; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. 16 By this we know [and have come to understand the depth and essence of His precious] love: that He [willingly] laid down His life for us [because He loved us]. And we ought to lay down our lives for the believers. 17 But whoever has the [a]world’s goods (adequate resources), and sees his brother in need, but has no compassion for him, how does the love of God live in him? 18 Little children (believers, dear ones), let us not love [merely in theory] with word or with tongue [giving lip service to compassion], but in action and in truth [in practice and in sincerity, because practical acts of love are more than words].

The Word of God for the Children of God. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.

A new command Christ has given to us born of the water and the Spirit.

That is to “love one another” so that the world will “know that you are My disciplines” (John 13:34)!

As Christ’s ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20) we are called to not curse human beings made in God’s image (James 3:9) but instead labor to do good unto them (Luke 6:27) so that the comfort and love we have received (2 Corinthians 1:3-5) from the Father might be apparent and a witness of His grace and mercy.

If by Jesus’ own words, (Matthew 5:43-44) If God commands us to love our enemies, pray for those who persecute us. then how much more ought we love, seek unity and peace with our spiritual brothers within the same body of Christ?

While the command to love one another is clearly to be a priority for God’s own it is difficult to put into practice because it invites intense persecution!

Rabbi Jesus warns us that while obeying His command to love results in our light shining amongst the lost it at the same time invites hatred amongst those who don’t want to approach the light because their evil deeds will be exposed (John 3:20, 15:18).

While it is painful to be persecuted by non-Christians who have not passed from death to life (1 John 3:14), how much more so when indifference or “active antagonism” comes from within the body of believers?

This was the situation that Apostle John wrote about in 1 John 3:11-18.

The Johanne community were “experiencing a pattern of prejudicial treatment and resentment” from two God-fearing bodies.

First, the Jews were putting them out of the synagogue and killing them (John 16:2, 9:34) due to their belief in the Messiah dying once and for all, and

second, they faced intense persecution from a group of heretics, followers of Cerinthus, that were spreading false teaching.

The incredibly sad part is that these secessionists used to belong to their church!

Today’s devotion is going review the reasons John gave as to why it is not ok to be indifferent or outright hate those created in God’s image, especially when they belong to the same body of Christ because such negative emotions often demonstrate your bond is with Satan and you in fact are not born again!

The Message from the Beginning

John begins by stating that he is “not giving the church a message they have never heard” but instead one that was given from the beginning!

The command to love was Christ’s command given to His disciples “likely dependent of the Last Supper discourse.”

Jesus said, “a new command I give you: love one another. As I have loved you, so must you love one another. By this everyone will know you are my disciples if you love one another” (John 13:34-35).

This is not meant to be some “academic, theological, doctrinal statement,” but one of the litmus tests one can use to determine if one has indeed “passed from death to life” (1 John 3:14)!

“As the knowledge of God is tested by conduct—whether one walks in the light (1:5–2:11)—so being “born of God” (2:29) is tested by righteous action and love of the brethren.”

While the definition of “love” by the world is incredibly broad and often self-gratifying, the kind of love John is referring to,

agape love, is the “responsibility to demonstrate selfless concern for our brothers and sisters in Christ as our response to the grace God has given us!”

Agape love is crucial for “living for Jesus and for advancing God’s kingdom.”

Because it is by considering others better than ourselves and looking out for their best interests (Philippians 2:3) that one demonstrates one has indeed received and is now able to pass the comfort one has received from the Father onto His children!

It is not by our carrying Bibles, singing worship songs, theological astuteness, or even the size of our church or our congregations that others see God’s light but instead by our visible and invisible expression of sacrificial love for them!

While we are called to love all humans because they are created in God’s image,

John stresses how important it is to show those who have a bond with the Devil and are filled with jealousy, hatred and strife that when you chose a bond with God through belief in the atoning sacrifice of His Son (John 3:16-17) you receive the opposite: expressions of unity, peace and love for both God and one another.

It is covenanted within this testimony of love that a believer can point the lost sheep to the Good Shepherd to be found, loved, and redeemed by His blood!

Hatred as a Sign of Death

Before John tells his audience more about the love believers are to emulate, he begins by using Cain as an example of the opposite of love, hated!

We are told in Genesis chapter four that “in the course of time” (4:3) both Cain and Abel brought offerings unto the Lord.

While “Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil” Abel brought “fat portions from some of the firstborn of the flock” (4:3-4).

We are told that the Lord looked favorably on Abel’s offering and rejected Cain’s (4:4-5). “Cain became very angry; his face was downcast” (4:5) so the Lord said to Cain, “if you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it” (4:7).

In a fit of jealousy and anger we are told that Cain invited his brother Abel to go out into the field where he proceeded to butcher him like one would an animal!

I believe the greater issue here is not that Cain brought an inferior sacrifice, a grain instead of animal sacrifice as some commentaries suggest, but that Cain lacked love, trust and faith (Hebrews 11:4) to give God his very best and was filled with murderous hatred in the sight of his brother’s righteousness!

Despite both brothers being raised in the same environment and by the same parents, unlike Abel, Cain chose to reject God as the Master of his destiny and tried to control his own future.

Cain did not “become a child of the Devil (1 John 3:12) by murdering his brother.

Rather, he murders his brother because he is already a child of the Devil!”

The “evil character of Cain is universally assumed in both biblical, extrabiblical sources” and the murder of Abel constantly reminds us that every single person has to make a choice between “hatred and love, life and death, murder and self-sacrifice” that comes from either having love, trust and faith in self or in God!

With the story of Cain in mind John boldly warns the successionists, the Jewish people and his own flock that what one possesses within one’s heart, either good or evil, is a sign of whether one has passed from death to life (1 John 3:14)!

From Cain’s murder of Abel, we learn an absence of love means living in an atmosphere of death!

Our choosing between being “right in our own eyes, being right in the eyes of God will draw hatred from others who cannot tolerate the light, morality, and selfless, sacrificial righteousness of those who rely on God’s grace and mercy.

Since “genuine love cannot be fabricated or imitated, it is either present within our hearts from Christ or not.”

Love and fellowship with God are an amazing barometer to determine if one is saved or not!

In Mark 7:21-23 Rabbi Jesus said that true murder is that which is conceived in the heart. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed malice, deceit, lewdness, and envy, slander, arrogance, and folly.

All these evils come from inside and make a man unclean!

An absence of evil within one’s heart or having love for others “will not cause spiritual life to occur but will give evidence of it. Conversely, to be unable to love means that a person is without life from the Father and remains in death.”

For John when a believer is either indifferent or outright hates other believers this is the “spiritual equivalent of murder” (Matthew 5:21-22), as a lustful eye is the spiritual equivalent of adultery (Matthew 5:28).

John is not saying that any person who hates is unsaved or have committed an unpardonable sin but merely that since “hate and death go together” as evil from the Devil, these are signs one either has not passed from death to life or at the very least are not abiding in the new life in Christ, therefore stand outside of the fellowship of God!

To these first century secessionists who rejected both faith in Jesus (2:22–23; 4:2–3) and love for one’s brothers and sisters (2:9–11; 3:11–15), John point blank states you are not saved but to those inside his flock he is saying that since by your fruit you will be known make every effort to not hate but love those within the family of God!

Love as a Sign of Life

When it comes to knowing exactly what love is, John says we are to emulate Jesus who laid down His life for us (1 John 3:16)!

While Cain is a universally acknowledged example of ultimate hate,

He who emptied Himself and became the suffering servant for even His enemies is an ultimately holy and ultimately perfect example of agape love!

The kind of love we are to have for our brothers and sisters in Christ is one that goes beyond self to focus on the well-being of all others.

When John speaks of Christ laying down His life this makes us think of the passage where Jesus talks about being the Good Shepherd who voluntarily lays down His life for the sheep (John 10:11, 15-18).

Agape “love is denial of self for another’s gain.”

It is doing what Jesus Himself already did and continues to do.

It is becoming like Apostle Paul who said, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).

“The effacement, (the quality of not claiming attention for oneself) of another’s rights and perhaps existence for one’s own sake is the essence of hatred; the effacement of oneself for another’s sake is the essence of agape love!”

Being angry, envious, and holding extreme grudges against those born again and created in the image of God drives a wedge between us and Him for God above all is pure love!

While loving all people, especially those with different dreams, goals, hobbies, and yes even different theology is impossible for our sinful natures to accept, those born of the water and Spirit (John 3:5) can do so for they have been given a new heart to replace their one of stone (Ezekiel 36:26)!

While we “are unlikely to have opportunities to literally die for others” we are to walk in Christ’s footsteps and voluntarily (John 10:18) “sacrifice our own self-interests” so that the vertical relationship of love between us and the Father might horizontally be known amongst our fellow believers!

It is through this kind of sacrificial other focused love that the world and we too see ourselves as true children of God!

To keep these first century Secessionists, Jews, and members of his own church from enthusiastically speaking with the tongue the kind of love that is not in their hearts; above all,

John says agape love “must be practical, visible, and active” (1 John 3:17-18)!

How easy and self-assuring it is to say I love all of humanity while at the very same time being indifferent or hatful towards those who are “uninteresting, exasperating, depraved, or otherwise radically different and unattractive!”

To follow in Jesus’ footsteps, one must be willing to seek and acknowledge the needs of others by practically meeting them when possible.

What would have happened to us if Christ had not emptied Himself of the glory, He had with the Father but instead chose not to lift a finger to help us “sinful, ungodly, unrighteous folks?” What if Paul never wrote Romans chapter 5,6?

Without His grace and mercy would we not remain lost sheep looking for our Master?

“Actions speak louder than words”

for it is precisely in our putting other’s interests above our own that we demonstrate we have learned much from the Lord who is our Shepherd!

Since “love that fails to take form of action on behalf of others is nothing more than religious rhetoric,” with unspeakable joy in the presence of He who voluntarily atoned for our sins may we emulate His love for all by offering those around us whatever we can to reduce their burdens.

Since we have more material possessions than even the children of Israel when they entered the Promised Land, let’s give sacrificially, not with the expectation of reciprocity but with thankful hearts that what God has entrusted to us we get to share with His own!

Let us not give up meeting together (Hebrews 10:25), become indifferent to some and infatuated by others, but instead let us share with one another, unified as one body in Christ who share the same Spirit and glorious hope of one day going home to be with Jesus!

Let this be one more Affirmation of faith, hope and love for today,

“Lord Jesus the love and comfort You have given me help me to share it with my brothers and sisters for Your honor and glory, Alleluia! Alleluia! Amen!”

In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,

Let us Pray,

Father, my Guide, illuminate my mind so I can understand how you want me to live. Your word tells me that people of integrity who follow your instructions are joyful. You have said that those who obey your laws and search for you with all their hearts are blessed and happy. I want that joy! Holy Spirit, please guard me against allowing evil to influence what I believe and do. Help me walk only in your paths. May my actions consistently reflect what you have said is right and good. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Amen.

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Author: Thomas E Meyer Jr

Formerly Homeless Sinner Now, Child of God, Saved by Grace.

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