|Volume 22 Number 4 April 2020||
Christians are kind people (Galatians 5:22). People today are so unkind to one another, especially those who have differing political or religious views. This should not be the case with Christians. Our kindness to others does not depend on their kindness to us (Matthew 5:43-48). Christians have been called to the higher standard of the Golden Rule (Matthew 7:12). We are to treat others the way we want to be treated. This means everyone, whether we agree or not, whether they like us or not and whether they deserve it or not. Christians have the opportunity to change the world (1 Corinthians 12:31b), and it starts with being kind. People don’t care about how much you know until they know how much you care.
The Gospel of Christ is all about love. It was love that prompted the plan of salvation (Romans 5:8-10). It is love, not force, that kept Jesus on the cross (John 10:17-18). It is love that motivates service toward the gracious Lord (1 John 4:19). It is love that marks the believer as a true disciple (John 13:34-35). Love is a tender blessing between brethren, as Paul noted in Philippians 1:3-5. Further, love is demanded between lovers of God (1 John 3:14-18; 4:20-21).
With all this instruction about love, one might be tempted to boldly proclaim, “Hate has no place in the Christian religion.” While such a statement would be understood appropriately in such a context, a broad view of Scripture will reveal that hatred has its place. With this shocking affirmation, Bible students will readily agree after consultation of a few passages.
Paradoxically, Paul sadly noted that a love of the truth will sometimes engender hate from those who reject such truth, even among one’s brethren. Galatian brothers of Paul had, at first, loved him so much that they would have been willing to pluck out their eyes for him (Galatians 4:15). They received him as if he were an angel from God (Galatians 4:14). However, after some false teaching had leavened its way through them, they weren’t as fond of their brother, the apostle. Some of the hardest words are reserved for them (Galatians 1:6-8). He quite pointedly asked, “Have I therefore become your enemy because I tell you the truth?” (Galatians 4:16). The word “hate”is not used, but their animosity is clearly implied. They were angry at Paul for telling them the truth. These were his brethren. His brethren had become enemies, simply because they preferred their ways over God’s, and Paul would not relent from telling them God’s ways. Brethren became enemies because of teaching the truth. Does this still happen in the church today?
As warmth implies the possibility of cold, and pleasure necessitates the existence of its converse—pain—so love also implies a necessary hate. The Psalmist, extoling his love of the truth of God’s Word, wrote, “Through Your precepts, I get understanding; Therefore I hate every false way” (Psalm 119:104). “Therefore all Your precepts concerning all things I consider to be right; I hate every false way” (Psalm 119:128).
These principles blend painfully in the teaching of preachers. It is quite sad, but unavoidable, that at some point, tragically, even from their own brethren, preachers will experience hostility due directly to their love. Loving truth means hating falsehood. Hating falsehood means agreement with those who cling to such falsehood will not be possible. Loving people means being deeply hurt when such rejection surfaces.