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).