Friday, October 21, 2011

Hatred, Love, and Everything in Between

            Hate is a strong word.  The words “I hate you” should never come out of the mouth of Christians.  Children ought to associate the use of that phrase with a mouth full of soap or a swat on the rear-end.  How can a Christian possibly fulfill the great commission of Christ with hate for another human dwelling in their heart?  The natural opposite of hate is love.  One simply cannot uphold these opposites and still follow Christ.  It is with this in mind that Solomon wrote.

Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses. On the lips of him who has understanding, wisdom is found, but a rod is for the back of him who lacks sense. The wise lay up knowledge, but the mouth of a fool brings ruin near. A rich man’s wealth is his strong city; the poverty of the poor is their ruin. The wage of the righteous leads to life, the gain of the wicked to sin. Whoever heeds instruction is on the path to life, but he who rejects reproof leads others astray. The one who conceals hatred has lying lips, and whoever utters slander is a fool” (Proverbs 10:12–18, ESV).

            Hatred infects the heart like a cancer.  The only thing in this world we ought to hate is sin.  No matter what evil someone has done against another, Christians are called to love instead of hate.  Jesus even said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust (Matthew 5:43–45).  The ironic thing about this statement from his Sermon on the Mount is that nowhere in the scriptures is the command to “hate your enemy.”  Leviticus 19:18 commands us to love neighbors, but the concept of hating enemies was fashioned only in the minds of people, never from the mouth of God.

            Peter quotes this Proverb when he too emphasized the importance of love, “Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8).  Much more can be said for the wisdom between this inclusion of hatred, but the bottom line is love (1 Corinthians 13:13).

No comments: