December 5, 2018

Hate Hate

Gary Thomas — 

The Jesus life is much more radical than most of us care to admit. In particular it means that as Christians, we don’t get to hate anyone (1 John 4:20).

Look at this in the context of other sins: for instance, if stealing is wrong, it is wrong to steal from anyone. You are a thief even if you steal from only one person. The fact that you don’t steal from most people doesn’t mean you’re not a thief. It just means you’re particular in your sin. If you steal only once a year, you are still a thief, even though you don’t steal the other 364 days of the year.

Or try telling a judge you’re not a murderer because you’ve only killed one person in the past twelve months… The infrequency of a sin doesn’t make it not a sin.

When Jesus says looking with lust makes you an adulterer even though you’ve only committed that sin in your heart, it follows that hating someone makes you a murderer. In the ethic of Jesus, if you would commit murder, you are a murderer.

So, if hate is wrong, it is wrong to hate anyone at any time. Focusing your hate instead of crucifying your hate is a double sin as it simply seeks to justify that which God condemns. Our faith calls us to want the best for everyone and to love others as Christ has loved us (John 13:34). God loved us while we were yet sinners (Romans 5:8), so even the hateful actions of others doesn’t give us license to hate them back.

If you love your family and your friends and those who agree with you but hate one, two, or ten people who disagree with you, you are, by definition, still a hater. All your love for the others who are like you doesn’t stop you from being a hater. Even if you hate someone because they hate others, you are still a hater. You are joining in their cause. Satan doesn’t really care why you hate. He just wants you to hate. Whether your hatred is based on personal grievance, prejudice, political persuasion, or anything else, you are still, by definition, a person of hate even if you hate just one person.  And that makes you part of the problem, not part of the solution.

If you only hate Republicans or only hate Democrats, you are still a hater. If you only hate whites, or blacks, or men, or women, you still are a hater. No hatred is purer than any other hatred. Arguing that your hatred is justified for any reason is like members of the Ku Klux Klan arguing over who amongst them is most like Christ when their very membership, the cause that joins them, denies and mocks Christ our Creator. None of them are like Christ. There is no holy KKK alliance. And there is no holy hater.

When it comes to people, the only thing we should hate is hate. God wants everyone to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth (1 Tim. 2:4). For me to curse anyone, or wish ill on anyone, is for me to curse God’s plans, desires, and heart for that person. When hate enters my heart, I begin working against God’s will. I am no longer a God follower. I am, by definition, a God resister. Another word for this is antichrist.

That is why we must love love and hate hate, in every relationship and with every person.

“Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister” (1 John 4:20-21).

One of the most effective methods of counteracting hate is intercessory prayer. Praying for God’s best for someone moves hate out of our hearts. I can’t ask God to bless someone with his light if I am obsessively cursing their darkness. I can’t ask God to prosper someone if I want to ruin someone. Either prayer or hate must die in my life; they can’t co-exist. So when I feel most aggrieved by someone, my self-defense (that’s the way I try to look at it) is to pray for them, that God would move them toward love instead of hatred, service instead of dominating, and a life of giving instead of controlling and destroying.

Why pray for the good of someone I naturally despise? It is far better for the kingdom of God, and ultimately even for me, if, instead of having one less enemy, I have a fellow brother or sister in Christ who is now working with me to see the advancement of God’s kingdom. Jesus told us to pray for more workers for his kingdom, not to destroy his enemies. Prayer is about the only place where my heart can make that turn. More than I want anyone to be destroyed, I want them to become a fellow worker in God’s kingdom.

Let’s follow through on what it means to be a true, devoted follower of Christ. That means learning to hate hate.

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17 responses to Hate Hate

  1. I think Daniel makes a good point about the misuse of the term “hate” as a political weapon to silence people with unpopular or politically incorrect opinions. The adage “love the sinner and hate the sin” is true, but often one is accused of hating the sinner by calling what they do “sin.” I genuinely wish evildoers would repent of their sins and receive Christ. But some might say that the mere fact that I call them “evildoers” is “hate”.

    It is important to distinguish between the desire for harm to come to those who are created in God’s image when motivated by animus or resentment. It is another to pray that evil is punished and good is uplifted and honored. Sadly, we are losing the capacity to make that distinction.

  2. I too have struggled with the desire to be a Christ follower in all areas of my life. However i know there are people i should love that i feel hate towards sometimes. I have been frustrated at the anger and ill will in my heart. I do believe God wants to purify our hearts and replace our hate for love. I think He would like to start with the way we view ourselves. Some of the meanest, hate filled people, i know(including myself at times) actually hate themselves. Unresolved sin and a misunderstanding of who God really is can make us hate ourselves and others. God truly wants the best for me and when i believe that, it changes my behavior. I also think my actions follow my feelings and it helps to DO RIGHT regardless of my “feelings”. I need God to change my heart, it is not able to be fixed. It must be replaced. Jer. 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? Thank you Gary for speaking about hard things! May God bless you with truth and confidence to speak it boldly!

  3. My husband and I both discovered your blog independently. We’re trying to save our marriage. He wallowed in visual stimulation for decades and I found the article “ Why Porn makes men Angry” That explained a ton! In order to save the marriage he put faith in Christ and he found the books “Cherish”, which I just ordered for him. But our marriage hasn’t healed, because, while I Love him, there’s a lot of hate in me too. (Plus: he’s not much of a communicator, which is how he hid his actions so easily). I’m having a tough time letting go of the hate. It’s like a security blanket or something. I’m stuck. Suggestions? Went to a therapist but he pretty much said “get over it or leave”. I know your blog was intended for greater social issues, but my hate is here at home.

  4. Kathryn Farrell December 7, 2018 at 3:21 am

    Love this, so awesome, and exciting to follow this call!
    Blessings!

  5. I do agree with hating hate because that’s what is commanded of us. And it’s just helpful to read your blog. The challenge here is actually my own heart. As for the subject of my hate I am able to pray about and God will take care of him, but for my heart, I believe I also need to lift up to God because sometimes I just can’t help it. My heart is so deceitful and I really need to be careful. May the good Lord continue to mold my heart into loving like Christ until my heart unlearns or decides not to hate because Jesus said so.

  6. Wow Gary. A great “action plan” type of conclusion: that’s what makes this so great. Reading that we SHOULD hate hate isn’t enough. An actual tangible way to combat it, that’s what people like me need, especially when the hatred has nestled into a close personal relationship, not just “Someone out there…”

    Aces.

  7. We have a higher calling than the world. I had an “enemy” in business, and every bone of my being wanted to hate or get back at her. God just wouldn’t allow it! Period. I still have to check myself, and pray for this person. When I read your blog, I said “ouch” out loud.

  8. Thank you for writing this. I am regularly with the call to ”resort to prayer” when mistreated or just offended. I agree with you that Jesus was truly radical. Seeking to live like Him takes all of the energy I have combined with His power at work within me, but I still fall short! I have included a paragraph from this blog on my Instagram @praywithlove4me with this pic that I posted yesterday. Thank you for writing such an uncompromising, confronting, Biblically based article on this topic.

  9. How do we love those who are opposed to the good of those we love? It seems like love requires an opposition to those who seek to undermine the good of the beloved. The classic example is that loving kids means hating pedofiles. This understanding of love and hate seems to make sense of how God–who alone is qualified to be Judge– hates the wicked (Psalm 11:5, Proverbs 6:16, Isaiah 1:14, compare Rev 2:19-22) while taking no delight in the death of the wicked but he desires that we should turn from our wicked ways and live. God’s judgments are made out of a desire for greater life for everyone involved. Is this incorrect?

    This discussion is further complicated by my generation’s understanding of hatred as anything that makes another feel bad. We have divorced love and hate from objective good. We–the younger college trained generation– often don’t even know how to talk about it apart from subjective terms. And we would take away free speech if it makes others feel bad. Certain political views are mandated by the government (in California) and and in my large company. A similar company (not mine) trains employees that they can’t express their opinion on homosexual adoption rights only if they dissent. This hate speech is not allowed, in their view. That’s a different definition of hate, that is only connected to subjective feelings, not objective good.

    We must be aware of this equivocation, since it is suspected that the Gospel may be made illegal by government anti-hate laws. Shouldn’t we desire objective good for everyone, even if it makes them feel bad in the short run?

  10. Wow! This is amazing, Gary… and so practical! Thank you for this much-needed reminder, and for the examples of your own intercessory prayer habits.

  11. This is excellent, particularly in a time such as this when people are so divided.

  12. Hate Hate? Fighting Fire with Fire does not put out a fire.

    Treating hate with love, as Dr. Thomas prescribes, gives hate a chance to breathe, emerge into the light of day, and the person hating, seeing hate and love in direct contrast, will almost always drop the hate ~ except those who are narcissistic and antisocial ~ who do not feel anything, except malice.

    Choosing Love is the only way to change hearts and minds; there is no evidence, argument, logic, reason or Truth that will change how a person feels, because, the heart has a mind of its own, and one will never care how much you know, until he knows how much you care.

  13. I have been controlling, hateful, bitter and angry for years. I believe Jesus Christ is my lord and savior. Just been a wicked Christian. Pretty contradictory or oxymoronic. I long to be with Him. While struggling with these heightened emotions and weaknesses, it led to my teenage daughter hating me, and my wife having an affair. (It started just last year and continued through July) she has repented but a super struggle for me with how I am. I cannot ever seem to obey God and do the responses that he requires. I react and get moody. Taking a serious toll on my family.
    I actually believe I’m the chief of sinners here. I don’t know anybody as rounchy as me. I hate my very being and that exists at all. To cause all these pains to others. Stupid thing is, I am not like this at work! At work I’m everybody’s friend, and we’ll respected. And talk about an uncontrolled environment.. I’m in construction.
    I appreciate this newsletter as a whole and this one in particular. I was reminded of a quote last night:

    “men often make up in wrath what they want in reason”

    This is me.
    Thanks again for the reminder.

    • Under Construction December 7, 2018 at 1:04 am

      Bro. God will work in you. Look at Him. Fix your eyes on Him. Seek Him in His Word and prayer every day. He IS Faithful and True. Remember He is not a respector of persons and promised to do great things in you too- just like any one else. Keep reading the New Testament! God IS able! He is more than able to do exceedingly above what you can imagine in your relationships. And remember 1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us of sin and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Keep your eyes and mind on Him!

  14. This IS a very important post. Thank you for your definition of antichrist. I had never thought of it in quite those terms. I want to be a God follower in all things, not a God resister.

  15. I love this blog! I’m disappointed that our church allows politicians and talk show host to use the chuech on Sunday mornings to pitch their political beliefs. TV entertainers like Tucker Carlson, at the very least, does not promote love or tolerance of folks who disagree with him. I can see these people speaking if speakers with different opinions also spoke. But none of them should be speaking on Sunday mornings! Maybe a Tuesday would be ok. Sunday morning should be reserved for pastors like yourself. Sunday morning should be for the teaching of Jesus only, not any type of political agenda. It’s sad. Despite this, I still love my church. Thank you for reading my Ted talk😊

  16. Thank you Gary for such a timely and eye opening post!

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