Dislike; The Ultimate Temptation
As of late, I must say that I find myself getting very angry at the all too frequent abuses of power that result in harm, either directly or indirectly, to the “common man,” such as myself and the majority of the rest of us. It sickens me to see what some folks would do at the grotesque expense of this nation for their own relatively small personal gain. I tire of the fact that we even have to debate such things as obvious as the sanctity of life. The list goes on, however I think I have made the point sufficiently for the purpose of this post.
I believe that my anger about such things as I described above is righteous anger. We see in Matthew 21:12-13 that Jesus got angry and demonstrated it physically, at the exploitation of people and other gross irreverent attitudes and acts displayed at the Temple. We as believers should be greatly angered at things like the slaughter of the unborn, the extortion, the lying, the wanton waste of the tax-payers’ hard earned money, etc., that so wantonly and frequently occur in this nation, and in other nations, at so many different levels.
The problem is that very often righteous anger; something good and sinless; something of the Spirit, can very quickly become something that is bad and sinful. Our flesh is very prone to such things. Galatians 5:20 names hatred toward people as one of the lust of the flesh; at some level our flesh enjoys hating people; it lusts for it. This draining and destructive behavior of course has no place in the life of a believer.
Matthew 22:37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
Mat 22:38 This is the first and great commandment.
Mat 22:39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
Mat 22:40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
The first and foremost thing here is about loving God, the second is about loving your neighbor. These commandments are not about feelings; they are about choices; choices that God wants us to make for the good of others as well as our own good [remember, He loves us]. Yes, sometimes it is easy to love; it comes naturally, and sometimes it is not. The commandment makes no exception for when the choice to love your neighbor may become more difficult. Jesus also makes it clear in Luke 10:30-37 just who are neighbor is, and it is not by any means necessarily the nice lady living next door who we like, our best buddy, or our spouse. The believer’s ability to do this is found in his new nature; his second birth, which of course is sinless (1 John 3:9). The new nature cannot sin, therefore is always keeping God’s commandments. This is of course not the case with the flesh. Once again, I will point to Galatians 5:16 where Paul admonishes the believer to walk in the Spirit, which as a believer he has, as not to fulfill the lusts of the flesh [which he also has].
It is so much easier to have righteous anger turn into unrighteous when we are not in obedience to what Paul commands in 1 Thessalonians 5:17; which is of course to pray without ceasing. We must also remember that Jesus died for these people that we may not like, and that their sins are just as forgivable as ours. Jesus indeed hates their sin [and ours], but He loves them and wants them to repent; to change their minds about Him and trust in His finished work, and receive the free gift of eternal life (John 6:47, Romans 6:23, 1 Peter 3:9). Most, if not all, of these people are unsaved and are on the broad path to destruction and doomed to the horror of a Christless eternity at present.
The Bible does not command us to like everyone. Dislike is not a sin. Sin is not about feelings [temptations]; it is about choices [obedience or disobedience]. Dislike [like] is a feeling; not a choice. Love [hate] is a choice. I would argue; as the title states, that dislike is the greatest temptation to disobey Jesus' command to love our neighbor; it is much easier to make the sinful choice [by default of the flesh] not to love someone we dislike. We do not need to be someone’s friend in order to love them (Matthew 5:44). We can even be opposed their actions fervently, protest these actions, and seek proper legal action toward them if necessary. We must not however be vindictive, mean spirited, hateful, or vengeful (Romans 12:17-21).
We must remember that the people that we may be so tempted to feel hateful feelings toward are also the victims. They are deceived by Satan and are unknowingly [possibly knowingly in some cases] acting as Satan’s minions, and they are to be pitied and prayed for. We must remember who our [and their] real enemy is:
Ephesians 6:12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
I believe that this is a key reason that the Apostle Paul was inspired to tell us to pray for those who persecute us.
This often seems like a tall order, but we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us (Philippians 4:13). We walk [in the Spirit] by faith, not by sight; or what may seem obvious and/or “logical” to us (2 Corinthians 5:7), and faith is the victory that overcomes the world (1 John 5:4). Through Christ, we overcome Satan, because greater is He who is in us than he who is in the world (1 John 4:4). Christ, who is in us has an infinite amount of love to show through us. Let us choose to walk in the Spirit and be more like Him; let us, like Him and through Him, choose to love the sinner and hate the sin. Love never fails (1 Corinthians 13:8).
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