This morning, God gave me a great enlightenment; I realized that my understanding was preposterous. I was still legalistic to this regard. I was thinking I would not be able to love some people for I have negative evaluation of them. I believed my negative evaluation of them hindered me from loving them. So, I had a command to myself not to get any negativity of people so that I could love them, even blindly. However, it was never easy for me not to get any negative evaluation of many people as they do things wrong, unrighteous, or incomplete. It has been bothering me since I became to know the commandment to “love one another”—almost as soon as I became a Christian. I thought I could not love them perfectly because I was having negative thoughts of them, which were based on pretty good reasons.
As I was repenting again about my negative thoughts of last night about a brother because he did something wrong obviously, I prayed God to give me wisdom and strength to get out of the malice. Just in a few minutes, I was enlightened that it was not that I had a negative evaluation of a person that I could not love him perfectly, as if I were in the schizophrenia, but that I did not have love for him that I got the negative evaluation of him. In other words, I have to love him and the evaluation of him, regardless of whether it be negative or positive, does not matter if it is true, if it is based on love—as if I do to my wife and my children. The problem is not that I have negative evaluation of a person for any reason, but that I do not have love of him or her.
Why is it a significant enlightenment? Is there any difference in that I was not right? Yes, it is the same in that I was not right. However, there is a huge difference between the two. Before I realized this truth, I tried so hard not to develop any negative evaluation of a person regardless of whether he or she is right/good or wrong/bad. Does anyone think it is possible? In my experience, no. Furthermore, does anyone think it is a good idea to try to have just positive evaluations of a person regardless of whether the person is right or wrong? What if a murderer, raper, or evil one, who is not repentant of his or her sin? Do you think we still have to try to have only positive evaluation of the person and avoid any negativity about him or her? It may not be possible and right nor is a thing that is commanded by God.
For instance, 1 Corinthian chapter 5 is a teaching that was aroused by a sinner in the church—he slept with his father’s wife, probably his stepmother. It is still a terrible thing even to talk about. Nevertheless, the Corinthian church did not deal with the sinner rightly—that is, they did not “remove” him, who was not repentant as it is implied, from among them (v. 2). So, apostle Paul rebuked them so harshly, saying that they were so “arrogant” (v. 2). But he himself, even absent from there, pronounced the judgment on the sinner (v. 3), and commanded the church to deliver him to Satan for the destruction of the flesh (v. 5). It was, by the way, so that his spirit might be saved in the day of the Lord, which means it was in hope that he would repent of his sin. Here, even the apostle, an inspired writer, had very negative evaluation of the person regarding the sin, pronounced the judgment based on it, and commanded the church to expel him, even though it might be temporarily until he would repent. This is the apostle who taught to have positive thoughts (Phil. 4:8).
So, it is impossible for one to have just positive evaluation of a person regardless of whether the person is bad or wrong. What does it mean to our discussion? If it is not possible, to try it is just tiring but not for an actual accomplishment. It would be like the Sisyphean punishment—to have to role a boulder up the hill only to see it role down and to have to do it over again. Even the apostle, as he commands to dwell on good positive things in Philippians 4:8, clearly puts a condition that “if there is any excellency or anything worthy of praise.” In other words, if there is nothing like that, it is just a thing to avoid (1 Cor. 5:11) and purge out (v. 13). Therefore, in order to reach the genuine love if we have to accomplish such impossible intermediate stage, we will have to spend eternity but still fail.
That makes the irreversible difference of it from what I was enlightened—I have to love a person and then the evaluation does not matter, if it is true regardless of whether it is negative or positive. According to this order, it is possible to love any person, regardless of whether he or she is a terrible sinner or a righteous person. We can love a person, for our love does not depend on our evaluation of the person, regardless whether we may have negative evaluation or positive of the person. Rather, as a matter of fact, if we love a person truly, our evaluation will be true, that is, we would not distort the truth of the person. Therefore, we will love the person as he or she is, regardless who he or she is. This order, therefore, opens up one’s heart to everybody, even an enemy, for love of him or her (cf. Matt. 5:44).
Another important point to be mentioned regarding this is this: The former understanding is legalistic but the latter one is spiritual. Another huge difference, huh, if it is true? Since the former order is not to have negative evaluation of any person, it is a negative rule. So, it points to a mental process that is not a first and original thing. The thought, evaluation, is a result of the process and the rule is toward the process and the result. It does not care what the origin of it, heart of the person, is and by what it is being governed. Even if it is a mental process, it is a process of a human being that is ruled by a rule. It is like the commandment, “Do not hate anybody”; it is a secondary or tertiary process and a result in the whole process that is happening in the person. The point is that it is not about the origin and the original ultimate thing of the process, which does not need and cannot be governed by any rule, for it is a matter of heart.
The latter is about the matter of heart. If one’s heart is full of love of a person, he or she will not need a rule that says, ‘Do not develop a negative evaluation of a person so that you can love him or her’ or ‘Do not hate your brother.’ If one is truly loving the person, he or she does not need any rule by which his or her actions in body or processes in mind should be guided (cf. Rom. 13:10; Gal. 5:22-23). This is the perfect way of a person to be able to practice righteousness. It is not by a rule or a law that governs outward actions or a secondary mental process by force or punishment, but by the spirit of the person by which he or she leads his or her heart voluntarily. This is the spiritual way that Jesus introduced, taught, and showed by his life and death.
We will never be able to love our neighbors by closing our eyes to their negative things; rather we can overcome their negativities by loving them. We can love them as we should as Christians only by loving them truly; there is no other way for us to be able to love them, that is, not even by closing our eyes to their faults. This order liberates one from not-being-able-to-love-others and opens his or her love even for his or her enemies.