Many Christians feel they have the right to hold grudges or animosity against certain people. They actually hate those who espouse abortion. They hate homosexuals. If someone does them wrong, they feel vindicated when they hold feelings of ill will towards that person, or persons. There are scriptures in the Old Testament where King David and others speak of their hatred for the wicked. This hatred for the wicked was expressed under the inspiration of God in the scriptures.
· Psalms 26:5 I hate the assembly of evildoers, and I will not sit with the wicked. (NAS)
Does the psalmist’s hatred for evildoers justify a Christian doing the same? There are numerous scriptures like Psalm 26:5 which one could use to rationalize hatred for the wicked.
Jesus Christ came to bring Israel, and mankind into a new covenant. Under the provisions of this covenant he gave believers a very different commandment regarding those who do evil, or are enemies.
· Matthew 5:43-48 “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 in order that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax-gatherers do the same? And if you greet your brothers only, what do you do more than others Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (NAS)
Notice the words of Jesus, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor, and hate your enemy.’” He did not say, “You have heard that it was commanded by God…”
The Jews had modified the commandments of Yahweh to fit their own agenda; this included allowing themselves the privilege of hating their enemies. That is why we see such animosity to this very day in the Middle East. Both Arab and Jew alike maintain mutual hatred for one another. In fact, in many Muslim nations people actually live by a written code of revenge, exacting precise prescribed amounts and types of vengeance for a wrong suffered. This should be sufficient reason to reject altogether the Satanic verse of the Koran.
Let us look at the commandment that was modified into a manmade tradition by the Jews to see what it actually says:
· Leviticus 19:16-18 ‘You shall not go about as a slanderer among your people, and you are not to act against the life of your neighbor; I am the LORD. You shall not hate your fellow countryman in your heart; you may surely reprove your neighbor, but shall not incur sin because of him. You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the LORD. (NAS)
Even under the conditions of the Law God requires His people to love their neighbors. He specifies that they are not to hate their fellow countrymen in their heart. They were allowed to reprove and rebuke a man for practicing evil of course, but vengeance belonged to the LORD.
The notion of ‘hatred’ towards others is very subtle at times. Often Christians make glib comments like, “I just HATE the Democrats!” A comment like this is made from our indignant feelings regarding the evil the Democratic Party promotes.
However, we must be cautious, because these words can also express what is in our hearts and minds. Don’t attempt to justify yourself, saying, “I don’t REALLY hate Democrats, I just hate their political agenda.” By your words you will be either justified or condemned.
Dear Christian brother or sister, if you say something long enough, it can become the expression of what you feel in your heart.
· Mark 7:20-23 And He was saying, “That which proceeds out of the man, that is what defiles the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man.” (NAS)
· Jeremiah 17:9-10 “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it? I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings. (NKJ)
We must guard our hearts. A time of great persecution lies ahead for all true believers, and God is calling us to be like His son Jesus. We must love and forgive even those who irritate, harm or act with malice towards us. It only takes small measures of leaven (sin) to cause the lump of dough in our heart to rise with pride and anger. Now is the hour to correct our thoughts, and be careful as to what we think, say and do.
· Luke 6:27-36 “But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also; and whoever takes away your coat, do not withhold your shirt from him either. Give to everyone who asks of you, and whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back. And just as you want people to treat you, treat them in the same way. And 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 whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, in order to receive back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” (NAS)
It is easy to love those who always treat us nicely. Even the heathen do that. The distinctive difference between the true disciples of Jesus and those who simply play church is obvious because of their attitude of loving those who refuse to love them in return. Most Christians are so immature in this area. They are thin-skinned, and nurture self-pity if their feelings have been hurt. They love to harbor a grudge by nursing their wounds as though it was a God-given right.
So what happens when a brother or sister in Jesus says something mean, or hurtful to you? Certainly it will produce hurt, or even anger. Hurt and anger are not, by themselves, wrong.
God’s word tells us to be angry. Even Jesus got angry when he saw the temple moneychangers. Anger is a secondary emotion; it is a response to hurt or some other root cause.
When someone hurts our feelings, it makes us feel belittled or disrespected, and this produces anger. God allows us to be angry, but He does NOT allow us to sin by hating the person who wronged us.
· Ephesians 4:26-27 When angry, do not sin; do not ever let your wrath (your exasperation, your fury or indignation) last until the sun goes down. Leave no such room or foothold for the devil give no opportunity to him. AMP
If you harbor hatred towards a brother because he has hurt you, and made you angry, then you are sinning. The hurt and anger are normal human emotions; the hatred is allowing Satan to get a ‘foothold’ in your life. The Greek word for ‘foothold’ is defined as follows by Strong’s Dictionary:
· “Foothold” = 5117 topos (top'-os); a spot (general in space, but limited by occupancy), i.e. location (as a position, home, tract, etc.)
If we allow unresolved hurt and anger to continue, the scripture says that the devil will find a “spot” to occupy in our lives, and in our homes. This is not a good thing. Marriages are destroyed simply because anger is not resolved before a couple goes to bed. Instead, they allow the hurt and anger to fester all night long, and in the morning there is a cold distance between them. Husbands have the greater responsibility here. They must be the one’s to nurture their precious wives back to emotional health, loving them as Christ loves the church.
· I John 2:9-11 The one who says he is in the light and yet hates his brother is in the darkness until now. The one who loves his brother abides in the light and there is no cause for stumbling in him. But the one who hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going because the darkness has blinded his eyes. (NAS)
· I John 3:14-19 We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death. Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. We know love by this that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoever has the world's goods, and beholds his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth. We shall know by this that we are of the truth, and shall assure our heart before Him. (NAS)
It is difficult to imagine we are guilty of murder when we hate our brother, but God takes hatred very seriously. Not only is the attitude of a murderer prevalent in someone who hates a fellow believer, but also it causes him or her to walk in darkness. They are like the blind; they can walk, but they can’t see the deception that has enveloped their life.
Unless we do everything possible to eradicate hatred from our hearts and lives, we will not have eternal life…we will lose our salvation! That is why the scripture says, “Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.” This is very serious business, and must not be taken lightly. A Christian who fancies him or herself as being spiritual, affirming their love and devotion to God without loving their brother is a liar.
· I John 4:19-21 We love, because He first loved us. If someone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also. (NAS)
To summarize, a true believer cannot hate his brother, or even his enemies. Those who harbor hatred in their heart are malicious deceivers. Those who spread gossip and slander are, in effect, concealing their own hatred through lying lips.
· Proverbs 26:22-28 The words of a whisperer are like dainty morsels, and they go down into the innermost parts of the body. Like an earthen vessel overlaid with silver dross are burning lips and a wicked heart. He who hates disguises it with his lips, but he lays up deceit in his heart. When he speaks graciously, do not believe him, for there are seven abominations in his heart. Though his hatred covers itself with guile, His wickedness will be revealed before the assembly. He who digs a pit will fall into it, and he who rolls a stone, it will come back on him. A lying tongue hates those it crushes, and a flattering mouth works ruin. (NAS)
· Proverbs 10:18-19 He who conceals hatred has lying lips, and he who spreads slander is a fool. When there are many words, transgression is unavoidable, but he who restrains his lips is wise. (NAS)
There is a cure for hatred…love and forgiveness. These terms are not just convenient Christian rhetoric, but the very essence of what our life should reflect.
· Proverbs 10:11-12 The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life, but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence. Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all transgressions. (NAS)
In short, a Christian is NOT allowed to hate other human beings. In fact, God requires them to love others, even their enemies, and those who mistreat them. Jesus is the ultimate model to follow, and in his last moments, as he hung beaten and tortured, he forgave those who were responsible.
· Luke 23:33-34 And when they came to the place called The Skull, there they crucified Him and the criminals, one on the right and the other on the left. But Jesus was saying, "Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing." NAS