Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. -Romans 12:9
Are love and hate compatible? Apparently in God’s view not only are they compatible, but hating is indicative of genuine love. No, not just any kind of hate, but rather hate that is God honoring. It’s what I call “effective hate.” Yes, there is such a thing as hating “effectively.” Having trouble getting your brain around that? It makes more sense when we think of how often there is “hating destructively” which results in actions, attitudes and outcomes that don’t honor God or His purposes. Though our culture would tell us differently, hate doesn’t have to be destructive, it can be productive. Additionally, it can be loving. And further than that, it can even be necessary. That’s the idea behind “effective” hate.
The reason why we have a hard time putting hate and the message of Jesus together is because we often make Jesus into a “Chia Pet Jesus” that is all warm, fuzzy, and compassionate. Just sprinkle a little bit of water on Him and get ready to cuddle. This of course, is one essential and powerful aspect of Jesus. But Jesus nor His love are always cuddly and soft. When we teach people how to love with sincerity, we must not neglect to teach on the power of and the place for hate. Hate is a critical bi-product of love that often gets misguided, misrepresented, and misused. Instead of hating effectively, we either bury it or we misfire it. Both of which are destructive.
Here are some teaching points on learning to hate effectively.
1) Get your hate on
If you hate nothing, you truly love nothing. Imagine if we hated the right things more? Imagine if instead of delicately disliking pornography we actually hated it. Or what about dishonesty, greed, and pride? How many marriages could have been saved had there been a healthy hate of those kinds of things instead of merely a general aversion to them.
Our culture teaches us to never hate anything. If you hate anything you are marked as someone who has a serious problem. Yet, the fact that we don’t hate the right things enough is a primary reason why we have so many problems. Satan doesn’t mind you becoming a complainer, but he fears you becoming a hater. People who complain about things rarely ever do anything about them, people who hate things often are moved into action. What the world needs now isn’t more complaining Christians. No, there are churches full of them. What God could use more of, as weird as it sounds, is more hating Christians. That is, Christians who truly hate evil enough to do something God honoring about it.
If you don’t hate evil, you probably don’t have a lot of love for God, the things of God, or other people. Evil is real, it’s serious, and it deserves to be hated. Unfortunately, our response to evil is to pretend it doesn’t exist, rationalize it, redefine it, run away from it, or even warm up to it. We even have a holiday where we glorify it, Halloween. Yup, I am one of those guys who is cool and hip, yet still thinks we need to revisit what we do and don’t do with Halloween. Many people on Halloween get their evil on, literally, instead of getting their hate-of-evil on. However, that’s a topic for another post.
We have a lot more to do in hating evil than addressing a one day holiday. For example, imagine if Christians hated children becoming orphans instead of just being displeased with this reality. If only 7% of Christians hated children being orphaned enough to adopt, there would be no more adoptable children in the world!
There are a host of issues that if we hated the evil behind them, the world would be a much better place. Loving the right things and doing the right things involves hating the right things. The sincerity of our love of God and the things of God is proportionate to the evil that we hate.
Ask God through a powerful prayer, “Lord, what do you want me to hate that either I like or just dislike?” This one prayer, ironically, could empower a love revolution in your life.
2) Direct your hate towards evil powers and what they produce, NOT people.
People who direct their hate at people are becoming the very evil they are against. We are to hate the evil that influences people, not the people themselves. Why? Because people ultimately aren’t the problem, it’s the evil from which they are influenced and operate. Yes, people are responsible for their choices. No one makes their choices for them. Yet, if we battle the person alone, we will miss the problem. Paul in the Bible said, “Our battle is not against flesh and blood…”
I know, it’s hard to separate people from the evil that influences them. However, we are to hate evil, not people. Are there evil people? I would say there are certainly people who live from primarily evil influences and harbor evil to the point they manifest it in their living and being. Yet, hate that honors God always seeks out transformation not annihilation. Its primary focus is on repentance not punishment. None of this disregards the important place that the discipline, correction, and confronting of people holds. There is certainly a time and place for that. However, when we look beyond the person towards the evil behind and within their actions we are able to better apply spiritual solutions to what are really spiritual problems at the root.
Merely hating your spouse, your child, you boss, or your coworker does nothing to help either you or them. But when we start to pinpoint the evil behind the scenes of what’s going on on the surface, we are able to take a more spiritually and effective approach to foster transformation and healing.
3) Use Truth, integrity, love, prayer, and words, NOT violence.
If you are reading this and somehow licking your chops because your are misunderstanding this article to be your license for violence (physically, emotionally, or verbally) you need to go back to 1st grade and learn how to read. Hate, anger, revenge, and rage are powerful forces that can and have been utilized by Satan to do much destruction.
Violence (physically, verbally, or emotionally) is often used by stupid people whose motives are evil and mind’s are lacking the intelligence to know any better. No, I am not referring to issues like war, defending yourself, torture, or capital punishment. I am however referring to bullying, intimidation tactics, murder, violence, illegal actions, slander, defamation of character, gossip, schemes, destroying property, and violence.
I do not believe calling homosexuality a sin or something that stands against God is a hate crime by any stretch of the imagination. However, disrupting a funeral and interjecting this message into a setting where it’s neither timely nor tactful is in my opinion, an act that dishonors God.
Hating evil requires much responsibility, maturity, and wisdom. That’s why I believe prayer, Truth, words (communication), love and integrity are the best tools in the toolbox towards impacting evil in our world.
Prayer moves the power of God to work on our behalf (within God’s will) against evil, Truth provides the blade that is able to cut to the heart and soul of the issues at hand and remove and reveal all falsehood, words provide the reach that enable minds, hearts, and wills to connect, love provides the protection that insures healing, transformation and the honoring of God are maintained as the ultimate goal, and integrity provides the influence that enables prayer, Truth, words, and love to make their maximum impact for the Kingdom of God and against the forces of evil.
Only God can move against evil (through prayer), only His Truth can cut to the heart and remove and reveal all falsehood, only words (communication) can connect us with people and powers, only Christ-like love can protect out motives, and only Godly integrity can give the best chance for God’s transformation to occur.
None of these are necessarily wimpy or soft, but they aren’t violent either.
4) Start with your own life
Learning to hate begins with learning to hate the things that stand against God within ourselves. Could this in fact be a significant aspect of sincere self love? Loving self means, in part, going to war against the aspects of evil that lurk within our sinful nature. Where the world wants us to try to come to peace with all aspects of our being, there are certain things about ourselves that should disturb us. God alone has the power to transform us as we come into agreement with Him about our sin and sinfulness.
It’s much easier to cast blame and to channel our anger at others than it is to look within. In fact, what we find ourselves hating in other can at times be directly connected to things we hate about ourselves. However, we typically find it easier to point it out in others than deal with it in ourselves.
When we start with our own life, we discover our desperate need for Grace through Christ. With that continued discovery, we will first appreciate how serious the grace of God takes evil and our need to be surgical and humble in how we battle evil within the world.