Hatred stirs up dissension, but love covers over all wrongs. Proverbs 10:12 (NIV).
I doubt that there are many people who argue with this Proverb. In general, we agree that hatred is bad and love is good. So why do we see so many acts of hatred, not just from terrorists or white supremacists, but from everyday people, including ourselves? We see hatred while we drive, when we watch the news, when we go to a little league game; even in our churches and in our own homes. Why is it so difficult for us to escape hatred? Perhaps it’s because of how much we welcome it.
Too often, we assume that those who hate, do so without cause. Let me be clear, I am not trying to justify hate. What I want to draw out is the reality that most people who hate believe that their feelings are justified. I watched a father bring a gun to a little league game to intimidate the parents of another child whom he felt was bullying his kid. Of course, the other parents immediately felt him to be a threat and responded with hateful looks, words, and even threatening actions. They too felt justified in their hatred. What may be the sad truth, is that we love to hate, and if we can find a justified reason to hate something, then we will typically do it. To us, since it is justified, it’s not really hatred. We may believe that it is a reasonable response to what is happening. Think about why you get so angry the next time someone cuts you off in traffic, or why you hold a grudge against someone.
The problem with hatred, is that it is always justified by its owner. Since it is justified, it can be difficult to believe that what we feel is hatred; the same hatred held by the racist or the terrorist. Our “justification” can lead us to believe that in this instance, hate is necessary for the greater good. It may be that peace, safety, or freedom are at stake. It would only make sense to hate that which threatens the greater good. Even God hates sin. Shouldn’t we, at least, hate evil?
Since sin always brings death (Rom. 6:23), and death is contrary to God’s desire for us (2 Pet. 3:9), God hates sin. God does not hate people, he hates the things that bring death to people. Unfortunately, we are almost always the vehicles that bring sin and death into the world. Often the Christian will express this idea by saying, “Hate the sin, not the sinner.” This phrase has been used to justify hatred for quite some time. Here lies another problem, it is extremely difficult for us to separate a person from what they do. How can we focus the hatred that we have toward something if we can’t touch it? I can hurt or kill a person to stop their actions, but it’s much more difficult to address the sin. It’s sad, but what often happens is that we show hatred to people because it’s too difficult for us to address the deeper issue.
We want our hatred satisfied. We often want to show the world that another person is the source of evil so that we can feel better about our hatred towards them. This only feeds hatred and ensures that it will endure in our world.
Jesus said that the entirety of God’s law could be boiled down to two things: Love the Lord your God and love your neighbor (Matt. 22:37-40). In order to eradicate hatred, I need to first find a true source of love. That can only come from God. The love that comes from God causes us to genuinely love our neighbor. It should cause us to consider the bigger picture, so that we don’t fall into the trap of justifying hatred based on circumstance. True love, Godly love, compels us to resist the urge to feed hatred. When we do this, we will struggle, just as an addict does when they are deprived of their addiction. Having been an addict, I can tell you that the addiction will cause you to justify some of the most unreasonable things.
We may justify chanting outside of an abortion clinic and calling a woman a murderer rather than trying to empathize with her and encouraging her. We may justify closing relations with a person or a group because they do not believe as we do. We may justify making our churches unwelcoming to anyone who does not vote the way we think they should. We may justify destroying property and acting out in violence because we think our message should be heard. We may justify the problem of social injustice by claiming its everyone else’s fault. We justify, because we love to hate, and we would hate for our hatred to be exposed.
Friends, we must realize how important it is that we resist hatred.
Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. (1 Peter 3:9 NIV)
Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written:
"It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord. On the contrary: "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head." Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:17-21 NIV)
I pray we would each ask ourselves whether we are acting with good or evil. The first comes from love, the second from hatred.
Grafted by His Grace,
Pastor Raul Granillo