Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar.
— 1 John 4:20
In our polarized world today, this statement is a convicting reminder, isn’t it? Its message is quite simple: anyone who hates another person does not love God.
When I was growing up, I thought hate was a thing I felt only in the rarest moments of my deepest anger. That was certainly a severe form of hate, and I’m glad it was rare and fleeting. But I’ve learned that the Bible teaches there are several other forms of hate as well. In fact, a much more common form of hate can occur when we simply cease to care about someone at all. Hatred begins when we stop caring about what is good for someone. And it can range all the way to wishing harm or death on them.
I have seen a lot of statements from Christians and non-Christians alike that wish harm on their opponents in politics, in lifestyles, and even in sports! It’s one thing to wish that opponents would change their minds or hearts, and it could even be an act of love to try and convince them to change, as long as we did so using virtues. But if we start wishing that our opponents would leave the country, be embarrassed, need to hide something about themselves, or maybe even get sick or worse, then we are entertaining hatred.
Dear Jesus, teach us to wish the best even on our enemies. May your love so overflow from us that it also fills our opponents and returns to us. Amen.