December 16, 2003
Encouragement for Today
Love One Another, Part I
"Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness. Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble." I John 2: 9 -10 (NIV)
Hate. How do we define this word? Is it an intense feeling of dislike? Is it wishing bad things to happen to someone or something? Like my wanting to take a sledgehammer to the computer when it’s misbehaving? Is it a desire to have no contact with the object or person that we hate?
There are some things that a Christian can hate. We can hate sin. God is clear that He hates some things, like pride and divorce. But this Scripture is talking about hating people. It’s specifically concerns the hate felt towards a believing brother or sister.
If I could ask John for his definition of hate, here’s what I think he would say: hate is the absence of love. My friends, that is a significantly broader definition than the one I just tried to give you.
The reason I think John would define hate as the absence of love, is that when I read the book of I John, or actually any part of the Bible, I get a clear picture that there is very little middle ground for the believer. In fact, Scripture is very clear about God’s attitude towards a lukewarm or middle-of-the-road Christian. In Revelation 3:16, God says to the church at Laodicea, "So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth."
I believe it is a ploy of satan to encourage us to believe there is a safe middle ground when it comes to loving each other. Let’s say someone rubs you the wrong way at the church. You might decide to stay away from that person and ignore them. That might look like a safe middle ground. After all, you aren’t attacking or defaming the person.
But in this radical gospel of Jesus Christ, I don’t think you can safely sit in that place. This Scripture is calling us to a higher standard of love than non-believers. You have three choices: to love, to hate or to be lukewarm – and we know what God thinks about the last two choices. For the believer who is in the light – we must choose love.
Our churches are filled with people who coexist, who never experience the love that Jesus spoke about … the love that should define our identity as Christ-followers to the world.
Jesus said in John 13:34: "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."
But how do we love those who sit next to us on Sunday, and sometimes offend us with their humanity? Check in tomorrow for God’s answer to this challenge.
My prayer for today:
Heavenly Father, I praise You and thank You for loving me just as I am. But I need help to love my Christian brothers and sisters just as they are. Help me to love them like You love me. Examine me and show me areas that need Your attention. I long to have the heart of Christ for others. In Jesus name, Amen.
Consider fellow believers with whom you have experienced conflict. Take steps to resolve any conflict that is within your power to resolve.
Identify people who have offended you in the past and towards whom you hold resentment.
Confess that resentment to the Lord.
Ask the Lord to show you how to love your Christian brothers and sisters.
How do you define hate? Have you ever shown hate towards a fellow believer? In what way?
How do you think God defines love?
What should Godly love look like in the Christian community?
Why would God want us to love each other?
What changes do you need to make in order to live out this command of love?
Romans 13: 10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. (NAS)
Luke 6:35 But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. (NAS)
John 13:34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. (NAS)
John 14:23-24 Jesus answered and said to him, "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father's who sent Me. (NAS)
Romans 12: 16 -19 Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation. Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, "VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY," says the Lord. (NAS)
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