A man who’d reached his 100 birthday was being interviewed by a reporter. What are you most proud of? “Well,” said the old man, “I don’t have an enemy in the world.” Well, what a wonderful thought. How inspirational, said the reporter. “Yep,” he said, “I’ve outlived every last one of them.”
We most likely chuckle over his sense of humour, but it does serve to introduce this difficult word hatred. I’ve heard songs about the closeness of hate and love, like Nat King Cole, who sings ‘Sometimes I love you’. Sometimes I hate you. But when I hate you, it’s because I love you. Now work that one out. I fail to understand how that works.
A friend of mine speaks of a person he worked with as having a love-hate relationship. Sometimes he loved him. Sometimes he hated him. Now, surely there’s got to be a better way of sorting this out. Hatred is the main cause of strife in our world. It’s the disease of the heart that’s often associated with deep feelings of anger. The great Nelson Mandela said no one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin or his background or his religion.
People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love. For love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite. And Dr SI McMillan speaks of jealousy, envy, self-centeredness, rage, resentment and hatred as a disease producing emotion. And, he says, what a person eats is not as important as the bitter spirit, the hates and the feelings of guilt that eat at him.
But really hate is not just an emotion
It’s a state of being that involves your choices, behaviours and thoughts. It separates people rather than bringing them together, because the one hating sets themselves apart from another. Now they can do it for superficial reasons. Racism is an example of hatred that’s driven by ethnic differences.
Some people hate others due to religious differences. Others hate one another due to past wrongs and refuse to seek reconciliation. It was Booker T Washington, a black American who became famous in spite of the prejudice against his colour. He was insulted many times because of the colour of his skin.
And then he said, I will not let any man reduce my soul to the level of hatred that Jesus taught, that people should not hate one another, rather to love others, than to see them as brothers and sisters. He taught we are to be gracious to everyone, just as God is gracious toward us.
A woman was surprised at church one day when another woman who often snubbed and ignored her went out of her way to give her a big hug before the church service. And she wondered what had happened, and she got her answer at the end of the service. When the pastor said,
“Your assignment for the next week is the same as last week, I want you to go out there and love somebody you just can’t stand.” If loving others were only as easy as giving a hug to someone you don’t like, we would all probably excel in life, just hug them and move on. But love is a bit more difficult than that. It requires a continual effort because at the heart of loving others is putting the other person ahead of yourself, and that’s always a huge battle. So what can we do? We can take this matter to the Lord in prayer.
It’s not an easy fight. If you feel hatred, it’s a strong emotion that will fight very hard. But God is truly the best person to fight this for you, as he is the very author of Love itself. Pray for that person you hate. And when you pray for someone you hate, you’re asking God to bless them. Don’t take things too personally. You may want to get a different perspective when dealing with how to stop hating someone in your head.
You might see yourself as the one in the right, but a new way of thinking could change your mind and soften your heart. And the Bible says in 1 John 2:9. Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness. The often-used phrase just forgive and forget makes sense in the area of personal hatred.
Heavenly Father, will you help me not to hate anyone. Because, Lord, I sense that’s not the right thing to do. Hatred causes so many problems, and Lord, I don’t want to be at the centre of these. Instead give me a gracious and forgiving heart towards those that I might not see eye to eye with. And when things get really tense, I pray you will come to my help. And I ask this in the powerful name of Jesus, Amen.