The Deceptive Roots of Hatred
1 John 2:9-11
9 Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness. 10 Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble. 11 But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them.
Throughout his first epistle, John presents a litmus test for his readers to prove or disprove their salvation. Most of us would probably skim over the list of questions confidently: Do I love the world? Huh uh. Do I have the Holy Spirit? Check. Do I live in sin? Nope. Do I hate my brothers? All-caps, bold-faced, underlined: WHY, OF COURSE NOT! But what if we dared to go a little deeper? What if we dug down to the actual roots of hatred? What might we find? Would our answer, then, be as emphatic?
The Pharisees and other religious leaders were blatantly guilty of hating Jesus and ultimately sending him to his death. But the roots of their hatred?—poisonous self-love, pride and fear. They were afraid of the shift in people’s opinion against their favor (Matt. 21:23-27), personally offended at Jesus’ rejection of their self-imposed additions to the Law (Matt. 15:1-20), and envious of the rise of his acclaim which, subsequently, brought about the decline of their own (John 11:38-48).
Now, of course, when we look at extreme cases of hatred, it is easy to proudly slap an “I ❤ Others” sticker on our own chest and forget about the matter completely. And to ensure our flaws are concealed we hide behind excuses like, “Well, his and my personalities don’t really jive” or “You know, I’ve tried to interact with her, but, she is a little weird” or even “Hey, God doesn’t expect us to make a conscious effort to intentionally love everyone.” The real issue here is that what we are hiding behind these excuses is sin. Plain and simple. We are unwilling to humble ourselves and admit our own self-love, pride and fear.
Later in 1 John we find that outwardly proclaiming a love for God while secretly harboring hatred toward someone is not only lying but, in essence, murder (4:20-21, 3:9-16). Be careful not to deceive yourself into thinking you do not hate anyone. Instead, inspect the roots of hatred in your own life and then, by the power of the Holy Spirit, expose those areas you so effortlessly ignore and dig them out.
“He who hates disguises it with his lips, but he lays up deceit in his heart” (Proverbs 26:24).
Pray for these churches:
Church of Christ at Bronson
East Ovid United Brethren Church