During the past couple of weeks, a wave of hatred has passed through the United States. One hateful act that took the life of another person has been a spark that ignited a fire of discord.
According to the New York Times, as I’m writing this article, at least “5 people have died in unrest over the death of Mr. Floyd. Injuries have been numerous, and millions of dollars in damage to property has occurred.”
Often, people try to use the Bible to justify hate, so I thought it’s a perfect time to look and see what the Lord really says.
God commands Us to Both Love and Hate.
It sounds contradictory and impossible to do both at the same time. But that’s where the wisdom of God steps in and helps us see more clearly.
Love God and Love Your Neighbor.
In both the Old and New Testament, God commands us to love Him with all that we are and love our neighbor as ourselves (no matter who that neighbor may be) [Leviticus 19:18; Mark 12:30-31]….
Is there any place in the Bible that hate is encouraged?
It is actually listed as a characteristic of a wise person and as one who fears the Lord.
But the question is: What are we called to hate?
Proverbs 8:13 “The fear of the Lord is to HATE evil.”
So, a wise person should hate evil.
Now, we must pay careful attention here so the lines don’t get blurred, as so often occurs.
God says we are to hate evil- Not people who are created in His image.
Hate, unless it is hatred of an evil committed, is NEVER justified by God and the Bible. Never. Right after Jesus declared we are to love our neighbor as ourselves, a lawyer asked a question that may pop into our minds–
“And who is my neighbor?”
Obviously we rightly consider the one to whom the evil is done our neighbor….But what about the one who committed the heinous act?
Is he our neighbor?
Does Jesus command us to love him as well?
True Love Doesn’t Condone Sin
Loving someone doesn’t mean condoning their actions. This is most clearly seen in the love God has shown toward us.
Romans 5:8 says,
“But God demonstrates His own love towards us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Note what it says–not while we were kind, loving and good towards Him, but while we were His ENEMIES.
Talking about the cross that Jesus was crucified on to pay for our sins, Martin Luther King, Jr declared:
Never feel that that tree is a meaningless drama that took place on the stages of history. It is a telescope through which we look out into the long vista of eternity, and see the love of God breaking forth into time. It is an eternal reminder to a power-drunk generation, that love is the only way. It is an eternal reminder to a generation depending on nuclear and atomic energy, a generation depending on physical violence, that love is the only creative, redemptive, transforming power in the universe.” (From his sermon, Love Your Enemies.)
1 John 4:9 declares “God is love.”
To know love, to know how to love and to love others, we must look to God.
God is the opposite of hate, the opposite of evil and that is why we should shun every form of evil, whether that be the actions and attitudes of others or those that are born out of our own hearts.
God knows that we are but dust and how difficult, or even impossible, it is for us to love those who do evil.
It’s not easy, it goes against our very nature as humans.
That’s why it takes a strength beyond ourselves to truly love others as Jesus did, a love that, while never once condoning the evil, is willing to lay its life down for the one who did evil.
And that’s what makes Jesus’ sacrifice so indescribable–it was for us who have sinned (committed evil) in our thoughts, attitudes and actions towards Him. It was for evildoers.
Praise Him, that He is not like us because what hope would there be if He was?
Kindness, Not Violence, Leads to Ultimate Change.
The Bible says that it is God’s kindness that leads us to repentance. (Romans 2:4)
Martin Luther King, Jr once said in his sermon Loving your Enemies:
The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth.
Through violence you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate. So it goes. Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars.
Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.
A Few Practical Ways to Love Our Enemies.
“Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good.” Romans 12:9
It’s definitely easier to hate the evil deed and the evildoer than to sincerely love him or her.
Thankfully, the entire Bible is full of guidance, examples and the character of God to help direct us on this difficult task, but I’d like to leave you with just one passage full of practical advice on how to do this:
Luke 6:27-36 says,
“But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you. To him who strikes you on the one cheek, offer the other also. And from him who takes away your cloak, do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who asks of you. And from him who takes away your goods do not ask them back. And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise. But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from who you hope to receive back, what credit is that to you? For even sinners lend to sinners to receive as much back. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil. Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.”
Whether or not we are truly loving people is measured, not by how we treat those that love us, but our actions and our thoughts toward those who do us evil.
And Just in case You’re wondering…God Sees All.
Jeremiah 23:24: “Can anyone hide himself in secret places, so I shall not see him? says the Lord; Do I not fill heaven and earth?’, says the Lord.”
Hebrews 4:13 ” And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.”
“Repay no one evil for evil…Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord.‘ Therefore, ‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink, for in doing so you will help coals of fire on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:17, 19-21 [emphasis added.]
May we ask the Almighty Lord to help us hate our own sin first of all and to truly love all others, showing genuine kindness to even those who hate us and do evil against us…because it is kindness, not hate, that leads to repentance
Only then may we be a generation of women who truly have an impact on this world.