The Bible tells us that God is a God of love, and it’s important to remember as we find ourselves in the world at a time when hate is rabid and rising, but we can insulate ourselves from this environment with love.
“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.”
– 1 John 4:7-8
“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.”
Jesus knew the world was a hateful place. He warned all his followers that they would face hate and persecution. There are those in the world that want to continue their sinful practices. Therefore, they hate God. They want to maintain their selfishness, greed and dominance of others. And there will always be those who hate others simply because they are different from themselves.
We still live in a time of hate. There has always been hate in the world. But in the information age, it’s easier to spread the hate around and transmit ill will across the globe in a microsecond.
“Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses”
– Proverbs 10:12
The great African-American civil rights activist Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. understood this concept better than anyone. He refused to use violent protest. He used the weapon God instructed us to use to defeat hatred: Love.
“I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear,” Dr. King, a Baptist minister said. “Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into friend.”
Paraphrasing the Bible in one of his most profound statements, Dr. King said: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
Dr. King synthesizes several verses from the Bible into this perfectly articulated statement. The first is the Apostle Paul’s admonition:
“Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone.”
– Romans 12:17
The next is Jesus’ advice against hate and command to love your enemies.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,”
– Matthew 5:43-44
Further, is the idea that evil cannot drive out evil. Jesus used this example against the Pharisees when they accused him of being in league with Satan.
“If Satan drives out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then can his kingdom stand?”
The take away is that only good, i.e. love, can defeat evil and hate. Returning hate for hate can never bring good.
“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”
– 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
The renowned biblical scholar Ellicott said that “love is long-suffering.” The meaning is that love patiently endures evil, while at the same time, conferring blessings on those who practice love in the face of evil.
When love is in our heart, when we can forgive and love our enemies, it keeps our mind away from evil, even from any evil done to us. This is powerful because love prevents evil from being able to maintain a dwelling place within us.
At the same time, love insulates us against sin like a protective barrier.
Lastly, this verse above reminds us that love fortifies our hope and faith in God.