What About Hatred? — Morning Devotions - Hope 103.2

What About Hatred? — Morning Devotions

Hatred is a powerful negative emotion that can destroy you. As Christians we need to heed what Jesus taught us about it.

Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.

By Chris WittsFriday 25 Sep 2020Morning Devotions with Chris WittsDevotionsReading Time: 5 minutes

There are some ugly four letter words around—but I think the worst would have to be hate.

How would you feel if you had someone say to you, I hate you? It’s a devastating experience.

Sometimes we hear young kids saying it to one another, or to their parents in a moment of anger or desperation. Hatred is like a terrible disease which can overtake you and end up controlling your life. It could in fact destroy you, as a powerful negative emotion. A man who had reached his 100th birthday was being interviewed by a reporter:

  • “What are you most proud of?” the reporter asked.
  • “Well,” said the man, “I don’t have an enemy in the world.”
  • “What a beautiful thought! How inspirational!” said the reporter.
  • “Yep,” added the man, “I outlived every last one of them.”

Is that your approach to dealing with your enemies, someone you hate? Is it just to avoid and ignore them, hoping that you outlive and outlast them? Maybe you secretly hope and plan and pray for bad things to happen to them.

Hatred, a strong dislike for another person or thing, can easily tear us down. It can consume our day-to-day thoughts. It can turn happy moments into dark and dreary ones. It can even consume our entire personality and turn us into someone that others no longer want to be around. I have a feeling many of us have experienced these dark, bitter feelings, even though we hide them and not openly discuss them. Hatred is a deep and strong emotion. It is not something that can disappear overnight. In many situations, hatred takes time to dissolve. It takes a significant amount of effort to push those harsh and destructive feelings aside.

“I think that hate is a feeling that can only exist where there is no understanding.”
― Tennessee Williams, Sweet Bird of Youth

You Must Get Rid of Hatred

The first step to overcoming hatred is to realise you have these feelings in your heart. Then, you must put forth the effort to eliminate them. This takes time. It takes work.

It was Tennessee Williams, in Sweet Bird of Youth, who said, “I think that hate is a feeling that can only exist where there is no understanding.”

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Like a bush fire, it gets out of control and does enormous damage. How many good families have been wrecked and marriages destroyed when hatred has overtaken people, probably through a lack of understanding, as Tennessee Williams says.

Unfortunately there seems to be a lot of hating going on in our world—social media has made it easier to express hate. Have you noticed? We can say what we like from the safety of our own homes and computers. We can hate those we don’t even know.

Of course we can have strong feelings against another. It may not be hatred, but it can get pretty close. Bitterness is possibly a better word.

History tells us that Leonardo Da Vinci once had a terrible falling out with a fellow artist just before he began work on The Last Supper. The story is told that he determined to paint his enemy as Judas. It was a perfect likeness. But last of all, he set to work painting the likeness of Jesus. No matter how he tried, nothing seemed to please him. Finally, he realised that he could not paint the portrait of Jesus as long as his enemy had been painted into Judas’s place. Once that was corrected, then the face of Jesus came easily. That’s a great illustration.

Jesus Answer to Hatred Is Love

If we profess to be a Christian, we can’t ignore what Jesus said, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44).

We can’t paint the face of Jesus in our lives as long as we hold bitterness in our hearts. Bitterness can grow into a festering sore and before we know it we have an enemy. It’s OK to disagree with someone, or even to be angry with what someone else has said or done. But hate does no-one any good! It only causes trouble.

Way back in the Old Testament in Leviticus 19:17 (ESV) we read this command, “You shall not hate your brother in your heart”. Jesus spoke about this often and said we are to love our neighbour as much as we love ourselves. We don’t hate ourselves.

The Bible also makes it clear:

If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother he is a liar, for he 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: whoever loves God must also love his brother. (1 John 4:20-21 -ESV).

We need to sincerely love our Christian brothers and sisters because if we do not, God calls us a liar. One of the most fundamental commandments written in the scriptures is the imperative to love others as ourselves (Leviticus 19:18; Matthew 22:39). Hatred towards other human beings is opposite to that ideal. The discomfort caused by discussing hatred is valid because most hate is wrong.

Love Is a Better Four-Letter Word

A man was seen one day going in a boat on a river with a large dog, which he wished to get rid of by drowning. He succeeded in throwing the animal into the water, but the dog kept trying to get back into the boat. As the man was attempting to beat the dog from the boat, he fell overboard. Witnesses say that the man would have himself drowned if the dog had not seized him by his coat and brought him to shore. When someone tries to do you harm, do them good in return. As Paul writes in Romans 12, do not overcome evil with evil, but overcome evil with good.

For the sake of our world, let’s replace this unhelpful four-letter word ‘hate’, with a much better four-letter word—love.