“He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him. But he who hates his brother is in darkness and walks in darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.” 1 John 2:10-11 (NKJV)
Notice the contrast here. Those who love are in the light. Those who hate are in the darkness. The obvious point John is making is that those who hate are walking in the darkness of sin and lostness instead of the light of Jesus and salvation. This is a huge thing for us to get. Hatred reveals that our hearts are filled with darkness instead of the light that comes from Jesus and His salvation.
What does it mean that those who hate are walking in darkness and do not know where they are going? When someone hates they are walking in darkness and do not know where they are going because they have blinded themselves to their hate. They have convinced themselves that their hate is okay with God. They have deceived themselves into believing a lie and so they are walking in darkness but don’t realize it. Let me show you some common ways that we tend to hate but be blind to the fact that this hate causes us to walk in darkness.
Racism-Racism has often been a respectable sin within the evangelical church. We’ve excused it by saying, “That’s just how they were raised.” Or “They are just from another generation where that was okay.” There’s probably many more ways we’ve justified the sin of racism within our hearts. Regardless of our justification, racism is hatred and that hatred causes us to walk in the darkness.
Politics-Very little brings out the worst in people like politics. You may think that your political party has the best interests the country at heart and that your candidate is the best choice for America. But if you hate those who have a different opinion about this than you do, your hatred is causing you to walk in darkness.
Religion– Let me start by saying that not all religions are equal and that Jesus is the only path to salvation. But, is it okay to hate Muslims? No it’s not. Do you know what it takes for a Muslim to be saved? They have to repent of their sins and trust in Jesus Christ, just like you had to. Religious hatred causes us to walk in darkness.
Sin-Christians often have a righteous indignation against sin. This is good and acceptable according to Scripture. Christians should have a righteous hatred of sin. However, a righteous hatred of sin does not translate into a righteous hatred of the person trapped in the sin. Probably the one sin that gets the most hatred is homosexuality. Make no mistake, the fact that homosexuality is a sin doesn’t make gay jokes and using derogatory names for homosexuals acceptable. Regardless of our justification, hating the person trapped in the sin causes us to walk in the darkness.
These are just some of the ways that hatred is seen in our world and sadly among those who profess faith in Jesus. To paraphrase James, my brethren, these things ought not to be. What should we do rather than hate?
“If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you do well; James 2:8 (NKJV)
Jesus was once asked by a religious leader what was the greatest commandment in the Law. He said it was to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. Jesus didn’t stop with just one command. He mentions a second command that is like the first in importance. Jesus quoted Leviticus 19:18 just as James did here. (Matthew 22:36-39) Jesus’ statement was probably quite shocking thing to the religious leader. Really, loving others wasn’t too high on the to-do list of most Pharisees. They were so filled with pride and self-righteousness that there really wasn’t much room left for loving your fellow man. After all they were obviously better than most people and those that appeared better than them were just a bunch of hypocrites.
Don’t get me wrong the religious leaders did good things for the needy. They especially did it when someone was watching and might tell others. The problem wasn’t so much that they didn’t do good things for others. The problem was they didn’t genuinely love others. It is easy for us to get down on the religious leaders of Jesus time about this, but before we do we need to ask ourselves if we are really that different from them. Sure if someone has a need we may help if we can. But to genuinely love others as we love ourselves…. that’s something entirely different. What does it look like to genuinely love others?
If I am going to love others, and not show partiality and prejudice, then at the least I must treat people equally. I cannot treat one group of people one way and another group of people another way. What does it look like to treat people equally?
“Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 7:12 (NKJV)
At the very least, loving people enough to treat them equally means that I treat all people the way I want to be treated. There are a lot of ways this would play out, but the main one I want us to think about today is in the way we evaluate and classify people. It is terribly easy for us to evaluate people and classify people based on external issues or what we know about other people “like them.” We can make unfair and inaccurate assumptions about people based on their skin color, religion, sexual orientation, political affiliation, family, or any number of other issues. Personally, I don’t want anyone to make assumptions about who I am or what I’m like based on anything other than who I am and what I’m like. If I’m going to fulfill the royal law, then I must treat all people in the way that I want to be treated.