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     We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death. Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. 1 John 3:14-15
     Merciful Father, there are a lot of things I rather casually express hatred for. I hate stringy canned asparagus. I hate bumper-to-bumper traffic going in my direction. I hate high humidity days when I want to jog. I hate pulling out a nearly empty milk carton from the refrigerator when I’m primed for a big bowl of cereal. I hate loud talking in a quiet restaurant when I’m already peopled out. I hate having to engage in deep conversation after 9:00 p.m.
     But this portion of your Word puts all hating into perspective. I’m sobered by the warning concerning the hatred of people—especially hating my brothers and sisters in Christ. Holy Spirit, I ask you to examine my heart and quicken my memory.
     Father, even though I’ve never spoken the words, “I hate you!”, who are the people for whom I harbor feelings of hatred? I know I’m quite capable of committing homicide in my heart. Expose any roots of bitterness, hope for revenge, or lingering resentment in my soul. I want to be free of all such feelings.
     Big disappointments and painful betrayals are common in life, even by the hands of those with whom we share life in Christ. Some of us have been egregiously violated and seriously abused, too often by those we were trained to trust. But when our real hurt grows to retaliatory anger and our anger morphs into spiteful hatred, arrest our hearts, Lord.
     Let me see the ways I become the very thing I hate. Bring us back to gospel sanity, sooner rather than later. Vengeance belongs to you, not us, Father. Even as you are a God of mercy, you are also a God of justice. We can trust you for both. You do all things well, in your timing, for your glory and for our good.
     Receive our praise, O God, for bringing us from death to life in Jesus. Receive our praise, Lord Jesus, for becoming the hater and the hated on the cross for us, for me. May the gospel compel me to hate evil and to hate my sin, more than I hate anything or anyone else in the world. Receive our praise, Holy Spirit, for constantly gossiping the gospel to our hearts. So very Amen I pray, in the holy and compassionate name of Jesus.

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Scotty Smith

Scotty Smith is the founding pastor of Christ Community Church in Franklin, Tennessee. You can follow him on Twitter.

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