14 Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: 15 looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled (Hebrews 12:14–15, NKJV).
Christians are under a divine directive to pursue peace and holiness. We must run after peace and holiness like an animal chasing its prey. Without these attributes of faith, we will not see the Lord. While rage, vengeance, and violence drive the faithless, we must consistently and carefully stand in God’s grace by removing and avoiding from our hearts every vestige of malice and bitterness. The slightest bit of resentment or anger poisons and defiles the soul. A root of bitterness in the heart infects others; it is not dormant. Holding a grudge when someone hurts us is not the way to pursue peace and holiness. It chips away at peaceful thoughts and interrupts holy words and conduct toward that person. Bitter attitudes and treatment of other disrupts peace and retards holiness as it becomes a stumbling block to others. Bitterness builds barriers that solidify hostility. As Solomon said, “A brother offended is harder to win than a strong city, and contentions are like the bars of a castle” (Prov. 18:19). Do your part to remove every hindrance to peace and holiness in your home, your community, your nation, and most definitely with your brethren (Rom. 12:18; 1 Thess. 5:13).
18 “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. (John 15:18–19, NKJV)
Jesus said His apostles would be detested by those who detested Him. The reason? The world is opposed to Jesus and His truth. His apostles would be hated for teaching and living His truth. The world also hates Christians who continue “steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine” (Acts 2:42). In fact, the world remakes Jesus into their image, and says He affirms their sins. They will hate you for following His truth instead of their distortions of it. One example is the claim Jesus approves homosexuality and same-sex marriage. He does not (Matt. 15:19; 19:4-6; Jude 7). LGBTQ and their supporters say, “God is love,” and that we are unloving unless we accept their definition of love. But, the Son of God said, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word” (Jno. 14:23, 15, 21). His word says homosexuality is “against nature” and the product of sinful lust (Rom. 1:26-27). (So, who loves Jesus?) His word says homosexuality is “unrighteous” conduct. His word says not to be deceived that those who practice it will inherit the kingdom of God (1 Cor. 6:9-11). They don’t. (So, who loves Jesus?) The gospel does not discriminate against LGBTQ souls, it identifies their sin just as it does the rest of us (Rom. 3:23). Get ready. You will be hated when you teach and practice what Jesus and His apostles did on this subject. The reason? You are not of the world, and they are (Jno. 15:19).
For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. (Matthew 15:19, NKJV)
Murder is the outward display of a heart full of malice and hatred. The first recorded murder sprang from the angry heart of Cain, who hated his brother Abel (Genesis 4:4-8; 1 John 3:11-15). While the outward results of hatred versus murder are usually quite different, the sin of hatred is just as evil. “We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death. Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him” (1 John 3:14-15). Both the slaying of an innocent person (murder) and hatred of a brother produce spiritual death. Cultivating love for one’s neighbor guards against the sin of hatred as well as the ultimate acting out of that hatred – murder. “Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not bear false witness,” “You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law” (Romans 13:8-10).
20 If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? 21 And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also. (1 John 4:20–21)
There is an inseparable link between loving God and loving fellow Christians. (The “brother” in this passage is one’s fellow Christian, a fellow child of God.) We cannot love God while hating a brother. Hatred is a dark, sinister, and deceptive sin. It can masquerade as self-vindication when we have been slighted (or, think we have been slighted) by another. Left uncorrected, hated festers, convincing us we are truth-tellers when we say we love God. But, in fact, we are liars. As you concentrate on loving God “with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind,” be careful not to sabotage your effort by holding animosity in your heart against your brother. Remembering the Golden Rule helps: “Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 7:12).
You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord. (Leviticus 19:18, NKJV)
Israel was instructed not to retaliate against each other out of hatred and anger. (“You shall not hate your brother in your heart. You shall surely rebuke your neighbor, and not bear sin because of him”, Lev. 19:17.) Bearing a grudge means holding onto anger and resentment and allowing those evil twins to dictate your decisions and actions toward others. Holding a grudge is not loving your neighbor, nor does it honor the Lord. Can you imagine Jesus holding a grudge? Neither can a Christian and please Him. Holding a grudge reflects hatred. If you are holding onto a grudge, let go of it. It is harming your relationship with God and others. If you have been wronged, let God deal with that. Follow the example of Jesus and keep on loving the unlovable. After all, that’s how He has loved us all (Rom. 5:6-8).
18 If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. (John 15:18-19)
It is neither easy nor pleasant to be hated for following Jesus. The Son of God “went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil”, yet He was hated and crucified (Acts 10:38). In today’s text, Jesus tells His apostles to expect the same sort of hatred from the world. Even now, when you follow Christ you will be hated by those who love sin rather than truth. Take heart and keep on being faithful to the Lord. “For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil” (1 Peter 3:17).