What’s love got to do with it? apparently, everything. The Apostle John makes it clear that love is the distinguishing characteristic of the Christian life. We only fool ourselves if we say we are lovers of humanity, yet we harbor hate in our hearts. We deceive ourselves if we claim to be loving persons, yet commit mental murder. If we either cannot or will not control our tongues through killing another through gossip, slander, backbiting, name-calling, and complaints, then the Apostle John would say that we are evil, period. There is no fudge factor with John when it comes to love and hate. Either we are righteous because we love, or we are unrighteous because we hate.
Love is not jealous or unkind. Love emulates the Lord Jesus by laying down selfishness and hate and taking up the mantle of righteousness through justice and peace. Saying one thing and living another way is unrighteous. When words and actions work together, both expressing love, then we are walking in the way of Jesus. The Old Testament character Cain is Exhibit A of a person who hated his brother. He was from the evil one because he murdered Abel. Conversely, Jesus is the consummate example of engaging in a self-sacrificial act in order to love.
Until we come to the realization that our tongues have the power of life and death, we will never learn what true righteousness is and can be. But when we begin using our tongues as instruments of righteousness, then our actions will follow. Perhaps the best place to begin is through prayer. Praying for the welfare and best interests of those we dislike will set us on the road to becoming the Good Samaritan who actively helps instead of passing by on the other side.
Loving God, I praise you for your Son who demonstrated genuine love. Help me not to be like Cain who murdered his brother and hated him, but to be like Jesus so that all my words and actions reflect your righteousness – even toward those who do not like me. Amen.