Hate or Love: Which Do You Choose?
By DANNY MINTON
The word “hate” seems to be thrown around with a completely new meaning these days. I asked myself what does it mean to “hate” someone? Can you disagree with someone and it not be “hate?”
The dictionary defines “hate” as “to feel intense or passionate dislike.” Synonyms include abhor, loathe, detest, abominate, and despise. Those words exhibit harsh language for sure. I assure you that I have seen a lot of hate in all my years. WWII and Nazi Germany showed hatred to the extreme when millions of Jews faced execution simply because they were Jews or not “their type.” Open the newspaper or watch the news, and somewhere in the world, assassinations, hate groups, mass shootings, and the language of hate dominate many of the articles we read. Closer to home, years back, my mind is haunted by the horrible story that made its way across the news of a young black man dragged to death behind a pickup truck in South Texas. Hate groups and hateful people have always been around and always will be.
I cannot name one person that I hate or have ever hated in any way during my life. Jesus taught us to love one another. The two greatest commandments are first to love God and second to love others as yourself. Jesus came to the lost of the world. He loved everyone even though he disagreed at times with how they lived their lives.
A great example is the story of the woman thrown before Jesus by a group of Pharisees who caught her committing adultery. You remember the story when Jesus told the crowd, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” Everyone left from the oldest to youngest. When he looked at the woman who now stood alone, he asked where those condemning her had gone. She said they had all left. Jesus then tells her two things, both out of love. He first says, “neither do I condemn you.” Then he adds, “go and sin no more.” Jesus did not hate the woman, but he still did not approve of how she lived her life.
Jesus teaches us to love everyone. To love means to want the best for everyone, especially in their relationship with God. I see and know many people who sin continuously. My life, like everyone else’s, includes sin. As Paul wrote, “we all sin and fall short of the glory of God.” That’s why Jesus made his appearance. He gave us a path to salvation. He didn’t hate us! If he did, he wouldn’t have gone what he went through. He disagreed with our sin, but he didn’t hate us for sinning.
Back to what I said earlier, I don’t “hate” anyone, no matter what they may have said about me or done to me. I’ll pray for them, feed them if they are hungry, visit them in the hospital, and express my care for them. The same goes for those who do things with which I can’t entirely agree. The world says that I “hate” you if I don’t agree with you and support the things with which I disagree. You might notice that I haven’t used the phrase “hate the sin and love the sinner.” A world that truly doesn’t understand Jesus cannot comprehend that phrase and separate the two. It takes actions to prove it to them, not words.
Even though I may disagree with how someone lives, judging them is not up to me. The only one who can pass judgment is God. I can tell the world what God says. I can share with them how the Word says they should live, but in the end, God is the judge. You see, God sees the whole picture where I only see the narrow scene through my life. I don’t know why people do what they do. I don’t know their minds, their hearts, or the motives behind their actions. I’m always aware of the words of Jesus when he expressed how we face our judgment in the same way we judge others. The Word teaches in several places the things that endanger us from eternity with God. But even in the end, it is God who weighs the hearts of all men, not me.
This week we are reminded of when a group of people hated Jesus so much, they wanted to get rid of him. Killing him was the only way they saw to end a threat to what they believed. He made it easy for them by giving himself up, facing torture, and dying for them. Yes, that’s right, he died for the very people that killed him, as well as for every man, woman, and child then and now. Jesus conquered hate, not with violence, but with love. God conquered hate with the greatest gift of love, the gift of his son to die for our shortcomings. Jesus, in his dying moments, offers his final prayer to God. “Father, forgive them.”
This week remember, “For God so loved you, and me,” “For God so loved our enemies,” “For God so loved those who hate us,” “For God so loved each person I see or don’t see,” “For God so loved instead of hating,” “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son.”
Jesus brought love, not hate. Only when we remember that one thing and put His love into practice will the world be a better place.
One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:28-31 (NIV2011)
Hate or love, which do you choose? As for me, “I choose love.”
Danny Minton is Pastoral Minister and Elder at Southern Hills Church of Christ