RAY STEDMAN DEVOTION FOR TODAY — MAY 6TH Visible Christianity
But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness; he does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded him.
1 John 2:11 RAY STEDMAN DEVOTION FOR TODAY
John says that he who hates his brother is not a Christian. He is in the darkness, and he has never come out of it. To say you are in the light and yet hate your brother is a basic denial of faith. Such an attitude of hostility, indifference, or unconcern toward another is a mark of an unregenerate life.
The apostle John says that he who hates his brother is in the darkness and does not know where he is going. He has no understanding that this can lead to murder or to mayhem. He goes blindly on, stumbling on in his hateful attempt to do evil to his friend, brother, or companion, whoever it may be. But the result is, he is only damaging himself and all he loves.
Furthermore, he is blinded. John says, the darkness has blinded his eyes. The word that is used here means to make insensitive, and it implies that if we live in this way, we ultimately come to the place where we no longer can respond. Hatred grips us and hardens our heart, and it can no longer be softened.
Christians may temporarily succumb to this kind of thing. They can walk in darkness temporarily, but they no longer are children of darkness. The light of God’s love has come into their hearts. If they are not aware of a struggle between the expression of hate or have a sense of concern or guilty conscience over their hateful attitude, then they ought to wonder whether they have really passed from death into life. This is something that the Spirit of God will inevitably deal with in the Christian and break, and it may sometimes be by very difficult measures.
I remember an occasion when I was counseling with a woman about a physical problem that really had a spiritual basis in her experience. I discovered she hated another person for years. Hate had turned her bitter and rancid and had poisoned all her thoughts. I said to her, You must find it in your heart to forgive this person, as God has forgiven you.
She looked at me and said, I can’t forgive her; I’ll never forgive her!
I said, But God says you must. If you can’t, then you need to face the fact that you are not a Christian, because if you can’t forgive, then you’ve never been born again.
She looked at me and said, I guess you’re right. I know I am a Christian, and I see I have just been deceiving myself. I need to forgive. And she did! There came a change in that woman’s life that was like night turning to day.
Christians can delude themselves into going along with the world’s attitude that they cannot forgive. When worldlings hate, they find themselves locked in an unbreakable grip from which they cannot escape. But when the Son of God comes into their lives, the power of the evil one is broken, and they are delivered from this and can forgive. But we still must agree to it. God is not going to make us forgive apart from our own will, though the ability to do so is there.
Lord, I pray that Your love might be manifest in and through me, not because I am trying so hard, but because I know You, and You have loved me and come to live Your life through me.
True Christians are marked by the ability to forgive anyone despite how they feel. Do we need our eyes opened so we can willingly escape the grip of unforgiveness?