I heard someone say once, “The opposite of love is not hate. It is apathy. In order to hate, you at least have to care enough to hate them. Apathy means you don’t care enough to love them or hate them.”
There’s a truth in there somewhere, but I’m still pondering that one.
I have also heard this, “Withholding forgiveness and holding on to bitterness is like taking poison and hoping the other person dies.”
Now I get that one. That makes sense! Holding on to anger, hatred, spite, and a desire for revenge indeed poisons one’s own soul and often the other person does not even know you feel that way.
So today’s verse got me thinking about love and hate.
If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. 1 John 4:20 ESV
One of the closest followers of Jesus and in His inner circle of three, John, said it is incongruent, it is contradictory, it flat doesn’t make sense to SAY you love the invisible God yet hate your fellow human being who is standing right in front of you!
Is he saying we only have to love our “brother?” That is, we only have to love fellow Christians? Do we have permission to hate others? Well, we don’t get off the hook there either. Jesus said:
But I say, love enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! If you love only those who love you, what reward is there in that? Matthew 5:44, 46 NLT
We tend to go along with all this “love stuff” kicking and screaming! Our natural man doesn’t like it! But there is a new man living in us that is to overcome the old, natural man in us.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV
Ugh! Ok, so how do I love my brother or my enemy? We feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, welcome the stranger, clothe the naked, visit the sick, and go to those in prison. Matthew 25:25-26
Our Father, thank-you for loving us while we were sinners against you. Forgive our hatred and apathy. We commit to love others in tangible ways to show how much we love you.