“You shall not hate your fellow countryman in your heart; you may surely reprove your neighbor, but shall not incur sin because of him” (Lev 19:17).

Hollywood producers, advertisers, and politicians put a lot of time and effort into packaging their messages. It's not just what they say, but how they say it really matters. They seek to get past our defenses and shape our values (for good or for bad) by pleasing our God-given sense of deep pleasure with symmetry of sound and sight.

It ought not surprise us, therefore, that God's law is filled with poetry and plays on words that penetrate our defenses to lay take hold of our hearts. “You shall not hate” and “You shall not incur” are very closely related in the original language. The Hebrew letters for “hate” and “incur” are exactly the same, but in reverse order: hate (s-n-a); incur (n-s-a). The point of this poetic device is to make us remember how dangerous hatred can be, how easily it can mutate inside of us and become a deadly poison for those who quietly “bear” it (in Hebrew, “incur” and “bear” are the same!). Not openly and honestly reproving a brother or sister who has sinned against us, is not a polite way to avoid conflict; it is a prescription for personal sin.

By not speaking up, the one sin my brother has committed against me is multiplied into many sins I continue to commit against myself, against my neighbor, and against God.

The surest cure for the poison of inner hatred is open, honest, and loving reproof (see Prov 10:18; 26:24-25; 27:5-6). And for disciples of Yeshua, the engine that empowers this loving reproof is the gospel, wherein our Lord and Savior “incurred upon himself” both the original offense against us by our neighbor, as well as our sinful response to that sin!

“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you” (Eph 4:31-32).

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