Hate: It’s a word that’s bandied about so much today, that it’s destined to become like so many other words – irrelevant.
But it’s an important word – one that we need to remember in its proper context.
The word “hate” is usually used as a verb, and has the following definitions:
- to feel extreme enmity toward : to regard with active hostility
- to have a strong aversion to : find very distasteful
The word “enmity” – as found in Mirriam-Webster’s Dictionary (above) – is also used at least nine times in the Bible, the most famously quoted of these is James 4:4:
You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.
The word in Greek is used twice in this verse – once as enmity – or ἔχθρα (ecthra) – which us translated as “hostility”, and again as ἐχθρὸς (ecthros) – an enemy. Both are from the same root, “exthra” – which means “hatred” or “enemy” – in this verse, if you are friends with the world – you are an enemy of God – you can’t serve both.
This is an example of righteous hatred – hatred of what is against God and what God stands for.
Then there’s the hatred of others – which we should never partake.
In 2 Samuel, chapter 1, we read of David’s reaction to the death of Saul. Now if there was a person that David could hate, it’s Saul. I mean, the man’s been trying to kill David for years.
But every opportunity that David had to kill Saul, and there were a few, what was David’s response?
1 Samuel 24:6: He said to his men, “The Lord forbid that I should do this thing to my lord, the Lord’s anointed, to put out my hand against him, seeing he is the Lord’s anointed.”
1 Samuel 24:10: Behold, this day your eyes have seen how the Lord gave you today into my hand in the cave. And some told me to kill you, but I spared you. I said, ‘I will not put out my hand against my lord, for he is the Lord’s anointed.’
1 Samuel 26:9: But David said to Abishai, “Do not destroy him, for who can put out his hand against the Lord’s anointed and be guiltless?”
1 Samuel 26:23: The Lord rewards every man for his righteousness and his faithfulness, for the Lord gave you into my hand today, and I would not put out my hand against the Lord’s anointed.
These are but a few examples of when David did the right thing, when given the opportunity to destroy his enemy, and he didn’t.
Because even though David was anointed king over Israel, he did not yet take the throne. God was still putting him through that period of preparation that He puts all of His servants through – and Saul was still the ruler of Israel.
So when Saul was killed – not by David’s hand, but by an enemy soldier, David – and his men – mourned for Saul.
Then David took hold of his clothes and tore them, and so did all the men who were with him. And they mourned and wept and fasted until evening for Saul and for Jonathan his son and for the people of the Lord and for the house of Israel, because they had fallen by the sword. (2 Samuel 1:11-12)
Are you kidding me? He mourned over the death of the man who’s been trying to take him out all these years?
Yes – he mourned. Imagine that!
This is a sign of someone who can look past an individual who is the source of pain – and considers how God views him. God looks on that person and sees his needs – and knows why he responds the way he does.
This is how Jesus could give His life for us at the cross.
I mean, if there was anyone worthy of His hate, it was us – but He loved us so much, that He gave His very life as a sacrifice for our sin.
It goes to what I’ve said earlier – we don’t hate the person, but we do hate the wrong behavior. The person may be in desperate need of salvation – we were, or still might be in desperate need of His life saving blood and salvation.
Jesus mourns for the unsaved.
1 Peter 3:9 says, “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.“ He doesn’t want anyone to be cast into Hell, but that decision is yours, and yours alone.
We can see in our lives today – people we can’t stand. Government officials, Cheats and Frauds, Scoundrels of all shapes and sizes.
Some can’t stand people who espouse the killing of unborn babies. Some can’t deal with homosexuals. Some can’t deal with sinners at all – condemning all to Hell.
Well folks, that’s not your job – your job isn’t to condemn – that’s God’s job. You’re not qualified to condemn anyone – because you’re just as much a sinner as the next person – I don’t care how “good” you’ve been.
Your “good” just doesn’t cut it in God’s eyes.
Can’t stand Joe Biden? Kamala Harris? Nancy Pelosi? Neither can I.
Do I hate them? No – I cannot in good conscience agree with what they stand for, and will vehemently preach against it with everything I have – but I don’t hate them.
I pray for them, I pray that they will find salvation, and see their error – and repent, and correct it.
People say that everyone, deep down, is good. This is erroneous thinking. The prophet Jeremiah put it bluntly in chapter 17 of his book:
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? “I the Lord search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.” (Jeremiah 17:9-10)
At our core, we are sinful – we were born that way, with a sinful nature. Does that mean that we hate everyone and wish to exact retribution on everyone who wrongs us?
In my prior life, I didn’t care who or what was in my way. When my way wasn’t carried out, look out. When I was in broadcasting, I had a station that I wanted changed – format, call sign – everything. Station management, who reported to me, ignored my orders. I had no problem flying in, unannounced, calling everyone in at 10 PM, and firing 40% of the staff – three days before Christmas. I didn’t think a thing about it.
Yeah, I was a real piece of work back then.
That’s not me today – I genuinely care about people. Do I let people run over me? No, I don’t, but I take another approach to how I deal with insubordination. When I’m hurt – I don’t go “scorched earth” like I used to.
What happened at the Capitol building in Washington on January 6th is an example of hatred of people. Protest peacefully, as most were doing is acceptable – but to storm the building, with or without help from the inside – and to destroy property and injure your fellow man, is not acceptable under any circumstance.
I am really angry at the election fraud that was perpetrated on this nation – and the proof of it is mounting up, that behavior is wrong and needs to be punished. I don’t wish the perpetrators to die, nor do I hate them – I pray for their repentance and salvation. Yes, they will have to pay an earthly penalty, but at least their eternal reward isn’t Hell.
That’s what I’m trying to say – we may not like what a person has done, but we want to see them repentant and saved.
Sometimes it takes the imposition of an earthly penalty, such a prison, to bring a person to that point. The late Chuck Coulson writes all about that in his personal memoir, Born Again.
So, the next time you catch yourself saying “I hate” so-and-so, or “I can’t stand” so-and-so, ask yourself, what about them can I pray for?
They probably need it.