What is the predominant characteristic of a person who has been born of God? In The First Letter of John we read about the central characteristic for all our responses, behaviors and attitudes as a member of the family of God. The main characteristic of God’s family members is Love in Action. Look look in the back of the New Testament and find three letters from John to read more.
For this is the message you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another…We know that we have passed from death to life because we love one another. Whoever does not love abides in death. All who hate a brother or sister are murderers, and you know that murderers do not have eternal life abiding in them. We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us–and we ought to lay down our lives for one another. How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses help? Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action.
I John 3:11, 14-18 Berkeley Version
John is convinced of the power of love and hate and asks us to love in truth and action, not merely in words. This is a high standard. Only through the Spirit’s help are we able to live up to it. If you have not experienced love, you may stop right now and ask God for the gift of love. God delights in giving good gifts.
And if you do not feel love, choose to do loving acts. The feeling will come.
John feels so strongly about the need for love, life-giving love, that he equates hate with murder. And Hate does diminish Life, whoever we are, the one who hates or who is hated. Hate is linked to physical violence that kills another. At least, hate slowly “deadens” both oneself and the other person. Hate kills. It kills joy, friendships, and relationships. It “poisons our own well.” Hate contributes to mental and physical illnesses.
If you hate, please ask God for help and for God’s kind of love in your life. Love is stronger than hate. Pour out your Hate into the Great Ocean of God’s Mercy and Kindness, and be filled with the HOLY Spirit of Love, instead of the spirit of hate. If you want to be rid of your Hate, God will remove it from you as you pray, perhaps like a bad tooth that has roots in your stomach, and will give you a heart of compassion and Love that fills to overflowing for others. Then, if you feel that old resentment coming back, remind it and yourself that you have given it to God to deal with, and that you have been given love in its place. You may be helped in this process by asking loving people of God to gather around you with their hands on your head, back, and shoulders and to pray together for you to experience God’s love. This process of healing is described in James’ letter in chapter five.
Having read the scripture above, you may wonder can someone who murders EVER have eternal life? To answer that we recall King David’s experience when he had one of his captain’s murdered in order to marry the captain’s wife. A prophet confronted him and he recognized his crime. His prayer for forgiveness is in Psalm 51. You can read more about this at http://www.beliefnet.com/columnists/prayerplainandsimple/2009/07/a-prayer-for-forgiveness.html
An Old Testament prophet, Ezekiel, speaks for the Lord:
As surely as I live, says the Sovereign LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of wicked people. I only want them to turn from their wicked ways so they can live. Turn! Turn from your wickedness, O people of Israel! Why should you die?
Ezekiel 33:11 New Living Translation
And the Apostle Peter says in the New Testament:
The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.
II Peter 3:9 New Living Translation
Repenting is turning back, being sorry, and wanting to change. Your prayer for forgiveness will be accepted. You invite Christ into your life and receive the Holy Spirit to help you. Then as the Apostle Paul, who consented to the murder of Stephen, persecuted Jesus followers, and who was still chosen by God for a great mission to non-Jewish people writes in the book to the Romans:
I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, no things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else is all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:38-39, Revised Standard Version