February 23, 2022

In Christ, Love Conquers Hate

Matthew 5:21-26

“Anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. . . . Anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.”

—  Matthew 5:22

We have a natural tendency to hate or ignore God and our neighbor. We tell ourselves we are good people. But our selfishness and anger lie just below the surface. Anger often erupts in violent, hateful words and actions. If we don’t seem angry, it may just mean that our anger has not yet reached its boiling point or had an opportunity to erupt. In fact, we may be seething with inner anger.

Strictly following the command “You shall not murder” is not enough to overcome hatred. We must address the source of that sin. If we keep our anger from boiling over, we do well. But to gain mastery over anger, we need love. And showing love, especially toward people who have hurt us, does not come naturally. In fact, only the supernatural love of Christ can overcome the hatred we may feel for our enemies.

When the Romans and the Jews hatefully killed Jesus Christ, he could have called on God’s army of angels to stop and destroy them (see Matthew 26:52-53). But instead he responded in love, asking the Father to forgive them. When Jesus gave himself for us on the cross, he certainly obeyed the law—do not kill. But he did far more: he fulfilled the greatest law of love.

O God, help us not to add to the anger in our world today. Help us not only to control our anger but also to overcome it with your love. And thank you for showing us the way of love, through Jesus. Amen.

About the author — Kent Van Til

Kent Van Til was a missionary in Costa Rica. He taught theological ethics both there and in the USA. He is the author of four books. The most recent is a spiritual biography of his grandmother entitled, "A Name for Herself: A Dutch Immigrant's Story." Kent likes to fish, hunt, make music, and entertain his grandchildren.

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