Hating Your Brother

Why should you not hate your brother? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

He hurt Allie.

That’s all you need to know at the start. I won’t go into who it was or what he did, but he really hurt Allie. I was at an Evangelical Philosophical Society meeting and I saw someone sitting in front of me. They looked like him from behind.

I had rage.

Honest rage.

When I left later, I saw that it wasn’t him, and thankfully I didn’t do anything the whole time. Later at that event, I’m hearing Clay Jones speak. Clay Jones is a wonderful apologist who talks so much about the problem of evil, and in this talk he gives me an insight that has stuck with me today. He looks at this section in the Sermon on the Mount as Jesus giving a cost-benefit analysis.

Let’s look at what Jesus says.

“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire. 23 So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. 25 Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison. 26 Truly, I say to you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.

Why is it that you shouldn’t hate your brother in your heart?

Because it means that if you hate him and the chance came up and you thought the benefits outweighed the costs, you would murder him.

I spoke to Clay that evening and we arranged to talk later on together. It’s something that has stuck with me. I am tempted many times with a hatred for someone. If I do that though, that hatred really doesn’t do anything to the person. It just hurts me.

If I allow it to foster, it becomes a poison that tears away at my own soul. I was created to love and be loved. If I live with that kind of hatred, then I am doing the exact opposite of my purpose.

This doesn’t mean that we need to make a statement that all hate is wrong. It’s not. There are things you should hate. If you love all people, you should hate racism. If you love women, you should hate rape. If you love animals, you should hate animal cruelty. The reason you should hate something, is because you truly love something that you ought to love.

What about calling your brother a fool? Didn’t Jesus call the Pharisees fools? Didn’t Paul refer to the Galatians as foolish? Yes on both counts. It depends on the nature of your heart.

Often times when guys get together, one thing they do to one another is trash talk, especially if they play games together. Do they really mean to hurt one another with the insults? Not at all. It’s just expected behavior. In some ways, when men insult one another, it can actually be a way of bonding and showing love to one another.

Some insults aren’t like that. Some insults are designed to destroy. Not only destroy, but destroy the person. Now I am not one who rules out insults in argumentation. It’s hard to do that when you see it being done regularly in Scripture. I am one who says that you need to check your heart.

If you have honest hatred for the person you are answering or evangelizing, then you need to step away from that. You can hate the system all you want to. In fact, you should. I hate atheism, but I should love atheists. I hate Islam, but I should love Muslims. I hate Mormonism, but I should love Mormons, etc.

Jesus is telling us to check our hearts. Do we honestly have hatred for the person that we are talking to. Left unchecked, that hatred will turn into murder if it is allowed to reach full fruition. The only thing holding us back is fear of consequences.

Note also that Jesus when doing these things is not downplaying the Law. He is seriously upping the ante. Many of us can go through life very easily without murdering someone. That’s not much of an accomplishment. To deal with the hatred in your heart? That’s huge.

And if you want to follow the way of Jesus, you have to work to do the same.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

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