Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. – 1 John 3:5
The reaction to the Sutherland Springs, Texas, church shooting was universal: Why? How? Why would someone do this, and why would God allow it? How are we to live in a world filled with so much evil?
Such evil, on the surface, seems incomprehensible. Yet somehow such events seem more commonplace. And they could become more commonplace still.
That’s because hatred and discord have metastasized like a cancer throughout our country. People have lost the ability to have civil conversations, and name-calling and venom-spewing have become preferred alternatives to listening to disparate views. Social media becomes a platform for the fray.
Unresolved dissension breeds hatred. Hatred breeds violence. And our society is one bent on hatred. So are we really surprised when violence erupts? Perhaps we shouldn’t be.
What is surprising, however, is what Scripture reveals about our hearts, where murder takes root. Murder, according to Scripture, doesn’t require acting upon hatred. Hatred itself is murder.
And that means murderers are all among us.
“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire.” – Matthew 5:21-22
Let’s have an honesty moment. How many times have you found yourself wishing ill upon someone who has wronged you? How many times have you felt the rising tide of anger that wells up in your heart with every thought of a certain person or a group of people?
Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. – Ephesians 4:21
Get rid of it. All of it. Repent before God, who is gracious and merciful and desires to restore each one of us to Himself. He is the only hope for our sin-sick souls. He is the only hope for our weary world.
Do you want to know an effective antidote to hatred? It’s prayer. When you pray for people for whom you feel hatred or even antipathy, it begins to change your heart. You begin to want what is best for that person, not what will best vindicate you. You begin to develop the heart of Christ. You begin to love.
By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another. – John 13:35
Each one of us has a role to play in fighting the rising tide of hatred and discord in our society. Our weapon: the love of God. We need to show His love, and we need to tell of His love and His boundless grace. There is, after all, no room in God’s kingdom for murderers, but there is a mansion in heaven for those who speak and live the words of life.