By Allen White
Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.
1 John 4:20-21
We can’t love God without loving who God loves. And, God loves everyone (John 3:16). Does that mean that we have to love people like Adolf Hitler or Benito Mussolini or Osama bin Laden? Actually, no, because they’re all dead.
It’s easy to love God. He is always there for us. He loved us first. God will never leave us and never forsake us. He has never offended us or sinned against us. God is easy to love.
People are a different story. They irritate and offend us. They are often moody and stubborn. And, to be honest, so are we.
No person has sinned against us to the degree that he has sinned against God. Yet, God loves the sinner. God gave His Son to save him. God’s heart toward him is always toward reconciliation. God knows everything about him, even his thoughts and heart motivations (Hebrews 4:12; Matthew 7:1-6), yet God loves that person lavishly. And, God has the same attitude toward us.
Hatred is the end result of perpetuated anger (go back two days in the devotionals this week). Hatred is a form of judgment. Hatred says that the offender deserves my wrath. God says that the offender needs forgiveness. Where God sees potential, hatred pronounces a sentence. When we hate others, we find ourselves at cross-purposes with God. That’s not a comfortable location.
But, forgiveness is not always easy. If someone steps on my foot and says, “I’m sorry.” That’s easy to forgive. It was an accident. They didn’t mean to hurt me. But, some people mean to hurt us.
When the brokenness in them interferes with the brokenness in me, we create a hateful mess. It’s hard to rise above when we find ourselves continually stuck in the muck. It requires something greater than us.
If we possess the love of God, we have the ability to forgive – anything. How? There is nothing unforgivable to God, except not seeking forgiveness (Matthew 12:31).
People can certainly test us. Some can push our buttons and manipulate us. That never feels good. But, our battle is not against other people. Our battle is spiritual (Ephesians 6:12). The enemy will do whatever he can to get us all stirred up and at odds with each other. Division and disunity are two of the devils most powerful weapons.
Now, I’m not saying that we should advocate that “the devil made me do it.” But, we can’t deny that he is the force behind evil in the world. When people are misguided, wounded, selfish, insecure or prideful, they get caught up in the devil’s schemes. We can relate. We’re people.
Jesus instructs us to “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44). Bless the people who have wronged you. Wish them well. Don’t rehearse all of the things that they’ve done wrong. Remember the things that they do well.
Who do you feel hatred toward today? God doesn’t want you to live there. Ask God how you can forgive them and move on. God has the power you need to overcome this.
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