The Danger of Cain-Like Hatred

I came across a powerful quote on the danger of bitterness last week while studying 1 John 3:10-18. The passage contrasts Cain-like hatred with Christ-like love. John uses Cain and Christ as the most extreme examples of hatred and love—one the taker of a life, and the other the giver of a life. He then makes applications to lesser, more common examples of each extreme: hatred is Cain-like and murderous, while benevolence is Christ-like and loving. It’s a convicting passage, and it reinforces John’s point that brotherly love is a test of genuine conversion. The argumentation is just brilliant! John lures the reader into being disgusted by Cain, a notorious villain, then in the spirit of Matthew 5:21-22, he sets the hook: “That’s what everyone who hates is like, for hatred is murder!” (v. 15) Gotcha. The message I preached on it is available here.

Anyway, here’s the quote:

“There is a sullen, brooding misanthropy (hatred or distrust of mankind) worse than explosive violence; it is the reservoir of hate stored in the breast, ready when the occasion comes to burst in Satanic fury. Moroseness, ill-will, contempt towards our kind, may be more evil than concentrated hatred. Such passions nurse themselves, hiding and festering in those recesses of the mind which are ‘the depths of Satan,’ till they make the soul one mass of resentment and antipathies. They grow with a frightful embitterment, into imaginings like that of the tyrant who wished that mankind had a single neck for his axe to strike! This cruel spirit exists more widely, under the smooth surface of civilized life, than one likes to think.” (George G. Findlay, Studies in John ‘s Epistles, 300-301)

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5 Responses

  1. Now no one will say anything………Whenever I post on a thread linked to SI the conversation drops like a lead weight as soon as I say anything. Just watch. This thread will never have a response.

  2. Of course, my non-commenting friend Mark Perry is right in noting that John is describing hatred of a brother, not of humanity in general, which is what makes the analogy to Cain’s murder of Abel so appropriate.

    John’s fuller argument is that hatred=murder, and murder=lack of salvation (1 John 3:14-15). In other words, if you hate your brother, he might not be your brother! (HT: MP)

    (sorry to disappoint you, jjones)

  3. Oh boy, my last comment must have been too hateful or too controversial because it got deleted……..Well, at least I was keeping on topic.

  4. Chris, what you wrote, and the quote from Findlay, are superb. The apostle John also wrote in John 13:34, 35 – A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another (NKJV).

    We don’t have to have hatred and bitterness to the point of murder to be unloving. Far too often, Christians are unloving when they shun one another, or pointedly say hurtful things, or even look down their long noses at someone not in their social or economic group.

    I’m regularly convicted when I read John 13:35 and have to ask myself whether someone else could tell if I was one of Christ’s disciples by my loving attitude….
    Ouch!

  5. Paul, good post: “We don’t have to have hatred and bitterness to the point of murder to be unloving. Far too often, Christians are unloving when they shun one another, or pointedly say hurtful things, or even look down their long noses at someone not in their social or economic group.”

    This comment may get deleted because it goes back to what I was saying earlier. I’ll try to say it in a way that doesn’t intimate who it is. (unfortunately it could apply to several people) Basically, I completely agree with what you just said in your last post. What I’m wondering is why people in fundamentalism can have such a large following when they write and even publish things that are mocking, scornful, mean spirited and completely rude. It’s fine to disagree with people. It’s a completely other thing to be rude and arrogant and mocking. I’m wondering why, even if a particular teacher may be a great teacher and the most profound person alive on earth today, why do Christians completely overlook this type of attitude? I would rather listen to a teacher who is kind and gracious and perhaps not so bright or articulate, than a teacher who may be brilliant but full of arrogance. I’m beginning to wonder if I’m the only one who feels this way.

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