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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

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. James 1:19

In your anger do not sin. Eph. 4:26

Dear heavenly Father, there are several things for which I rather casually express hatred. I hate stringy canned asparagus. I hate bumper-to-bumper traffic going in my direction. I hate being late for anything. I hate pulling out a nearly empty milk carton when I’m primed for a big bowl of cereal. I hate small talking in a room full of people I don’t know.

But this portion of your Word puts all of my hating into perspective. I’m sobered by the warning about the hatred of people—especially hating brothers and sisters in Christ.

Holy Spirit, I ask you to examine my heart and quicken my memory. Who are the people for whom I’ve entertained feelings of hatred? Though I may have never spoken the violent words “I hate you!” to their face, whom have I murdered in my heart—relishing their reversal, dreamed of their demise, and longed for their languishing?

I know that 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 greatly harmed by the very people we were trained to trust. Arrest our hearts, Lord, before real hurt grows to retaliatory anger, and retaliatory anger morphs into spiteful hatred, and spiteful hatred segues into heart homicide.

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.

Father, we praise you for bringing us from death to life in Jesus, and for the assurance that you will complete the good work of salvation you began in us. May the gospel compel us to hate evil and hate our sin, more than anything else. In our anger, help us to not sin. In all things, free us to trust, love and serve you. So very Amen we 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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