Today's Little Lift
by Jim Bullington
Some rules have no exceptions! While it is true that some rules have exceptions, there are also some which have no exceptions. When God makes a rule (law), I cannot depend on that rule having an exception unless He has stated that to be the case. A few examples are in order: “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3.3). “No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 16.6).“No one knows the Son except the Father. Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.” (Matthew 11.27). Today’s message will deal with such a rule and a conundrum in which I find myself.
John wrote, “He who says he is in the light, and hates his brother, is in darkness until now. He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him. But he who hates his brother is in darkness and walks in darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.” (1 John 2.9-11). This, seems to me would be one of those rules without exception. It seems that way for two reasons: 1) Merely because of the language of the verse, and 2) Because the idea that one can hate his brother and still be a follower of Jesus Christ contradicts the spirit and letter of what Jesus taught.
Hatred for individuals simply has no place in the heart or life of a follower of God. If Jesus said that we are to love our enemies (see Matthew 5.44; Luke 6.27; Luke 6.35), then what of our brothers!! I do not necessarily believe that love is the opposite of hate, but one certainly cannot love that which he hates! If we are to love our enemies, then what of those whom we see fit to call our brethren? Personal grudges, personal revenge, and personal retribution cannot be a part of the believer’s life – PERIOD! I may have an excuse for my hatred and you may have an excuse for your hatred, but there can be no biblical reason for it. Hatred is a cancer of the heart just as surely as the literal disease of cancer threatens human flesh.
A short time ago, I read a book which attempted to biblically justify the horrid practice of slavery. This book as one might guess was written in the nineteenth century. For one to write such a book or take such a stand today would be unthinkable in our culture. However, the hatred that accompanied slavery did not die with slavery. Hatred and greed were at the heart of the practice; in fact they were the roots out of which the practice grew and from which it was sustained. Where hatred and greed exist, almost any deplorable condition can thrive.
I wonder sometimes just how much hatred and greed are behind the economic policies and practices that exist today. What happened to compassion for fellow man in business dealings? When a corporate entity can save a buck by dealing with those who deny even the most basic of human rights, is that really a good deal? When goods are purchased from those who employ what amounts to slave labor, just how innocent are those who buy these items? Can it really be love that is being shown toward those who are being forced to forego their basic freedoms just so others in more "humane" societies can enjoy the desires of their heart at a cheaper price? It seems to me that such actions indicate that love for the almighty dollar exceeds the love for the people that are being mistreated in this manner!
I freely admit that I do not know the answer to some of these hard questions, but that doesn’t stop me from thinking. Love is not a word; it is action. How can one love an individual who is mistreated in order to facilitate the first person's continuance in the lap of luxury? I think it cannot be done! “He who hates his brother is in darkness!”
1. Do you agree with the statement, "Love is not a word, it is action"? Why or why not?
2. If we KNOW that items we are buying are stolen, can we be guiltless in buying them? If we know that goods we purchase were produced through forced and inhumane labor practices, can we be guiltless in buying them? Why or why not?
3. What moral standards should govern humanity? Or, are there any absolutes? Is each culture and country entirely free to decide the absolutes that apply to them?
4. Is it possible to love in word, but not in deed? Is it possible to love in word and hate in deed (see 1 John 3.18)?
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