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My kids overuse the word “hate.” Do yours?

“I hate dinner!”

“I hate homework!”

“I hate my shoes!”

“I hate pigeons!” Pigeons? Seriously?

I don’t tolerate the word “hate” in these circumstances. I’ll tell them, “Don’t waste your hate on poor pigeons for goodness sake! What did they ever do to you?” I clarify for them that perhaps they dislike pigeons but hate is strong. Hate is powerful. Hate is a weapon that must be seldom used. Save it for what matters.

As Christians are we allowed to hate? Is there room for that? Read with me:

 

There are six things the Lord hates—
    no, seven things he detests:
    haughty eyes,
    a lying tongue,
    hands that kill the innocent,
    a heart that plots evil,
    feet that race to do wrong,
    a false witness who pours out lies,
    a person who sows discord in a family.

Proverbs 6:16-19

 

The Lord examines both the righteous and the wicked.
He hates those who love violence. Psalm 11:5

 

To fear the Lord is to hate evil;
I hate pride and arrogance,
evil behavior and perverse speech. Proverbs 8:13

 

Put quite simply we are allowed to, in fact called to hate the things that God hates. And God hates evil, God hates violence, God hates injustice, God hates sin (and that covers all of us), God hates, HATE!

“Hate the sin and love the sinner.” Sunday school talk? Maybe, but I can’t get around the truth of it. We don’t hate the patient. We hate the evil cancer growing in their heart.

How do we disarm hate? You already know. It’s love. Always love. So there’s our dilemma. Our world is filled to the brim with seething, unmitigated, uniformed hate. Hate for skin color. Hate for gender. Hate for weakness. Hate for otherness; differentness. We are veering towards the peripheries. Opposite sides. “Us and Them.” And in the midst of all this turmoil, Christian believers are called to love. We are called to unity, to harmony. And some of us radically so.

Have you seen the news? Not just last week, but week after week? We can no longer be sweet Christian ladies, keeping our heads down, minding our own business. From coffee shops to school halls, the world is whirling towards extremes. Who will you decide to be? Who will I decide to be? Will we read the Word? Will we step out and obey it? We who know Jesus have the secret. We know the paths of peace. What will we do with our knowledge?

 

“I give you a new commandment—to love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.  Everyone will know by this that you are my disciples—if you have love for one another.” John 13:34  

 

From my protected perch, my tears and outrage come at my convenience. I’m aware of that luxury. I’m also keenly aware not all of us can say that. Some of you reading this are daily assaulted with messages of hate, or prejudice, or racism, or sexism, or extremism. You are arming your children with responses and tactics – fearful everyday they wander out into the big wide world… I catch my breath and exhale a prayer for you, “Protection, grace, mercy, Lord.”

But, God is so gracious. He won’t let me pretend I’m safe from any of this.

Take a closer look at Proverbs 6:16-19 from earlier. Let’s check out some Hebrew root meanings and see how this verse applies to us real-time.

 

There are six things the Lord hates—
    no, seven things he detests:
    haughty eyes,
    a lying tongue,
    hands that kill the innocent,
    a heart that plots evil,
    feet that race to do wrong,
    a false witness who pours out lies,
    a person who sows discord in a family.

Proverbs 6:16-19

 

“Haughty” means proud. It means lifted up, elevated, to exalt yourself. When we lift ourselves high we find ourselves looking, not side to side, but down on others. Have we ever looked down on another? Oh yes, we are all in this too.

“A lying tongue” means a deceptive babbler. “Tongue” also means wedge or flame. I know I’ve used my tongue to drive a wedge. To spark a flame.

The meaning for the word “hands” can also be “strength” or “power.” So, the interpretation of, “hands that kill the innocent,” is one who uses their power to pour out innocent blood. This is figurative as well as literal. Have you ever witnessed someone using their power to drain the life from someone else, to crush the life-blood of their spirit?

“A heart that plots evil,” this means to devise or plan wicked, sorrowful or troubling events. The meaning also implies simply imagining these things. Have you ever just imagined or wished for trouble to befall someone?

The root of the word wicked or evil literally means, “to pant.” Have you ever seen someone so mad, so bent on revenge it seemed like they were panting for it? Oh, how strong the enemy’s hold can be!

“A person who sows discord in a family…” The word “sows” is interesting. It means to send out, shoot forth, let loose strife among your family, or your tribe. Do you know anyone that lets her words shoot forth and sow discord? Have you ever let loose on your family or friends. That one hits close to home.

Are you feeling duly convicted? Me too. I can see myself way too clearly in these explanations. Look, we all sin. We are all benefactors of a grace we don’t deserve from a God who loves us more than we can fathom. So much more. We can’t ignore this stuff and we can’t stay mired in guilt. That’s a defeat the enemy would love to achieve.

So what do we do now? How do we move forward?

 

“Above all keep your love for one another fervent, because love covers a multitude of sins.”  1 Peter 4:8

 

Here’s an interesting parallel to encourage us. The word “fervent” in the Greek means “stretched out, earnestly, without ceasing.” Its definition isn’t that far off from the word for “sows” in Proverbs 6; “send out, shoot forth, let loose…”

So here’s what we do.

We repent of our hate, active or passive. Do you know what passive hate is? It’s doing nothing when exposed to active hate.

We ask for eyes to see how to love like Jesus.  We look to Him as our example. See how he treated the foreigner, the outcast, the minority, the woman. His love wasn’t soft and permissive. It was real and active. Jesus broke down cultural barriers and at the same time built relational bridges between himself and others. He’s the master. Seek his direction. And then do it.

We love fervently, stretched out, earnestly, without stopping, in our little corner of the world. We love radically, whatever that looks like for us, not counting the cost but letting the Lord do that. This may feel amorphous, too abstract, so search for practical applications. Don’t leave this to theoretical discussions. Do something. Say something. Show it. Sow love not discord, and sow peace not strife. “Let loose” the love God plants in our hearts (He will!), not looking back, letting Him pick up the pieces of our lives that scare us the most. And it might be scary. Worthwhile pursuits often are. But we are not the first. Jesus has already blazed this trail for us.

 

“Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God.  But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.

 God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.

 Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us.

 Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear.

 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.”

1 John 4; 7-12, 18, 20

 

Learning to love as Jesus did, unreservedly, blindly, yet with keen spiritual insight, is of infinite importance. Now. In the near future. And in the age to come. Do not dismiss the hate that hangs like a vapor in our world as, “not my problem.” If it’s not your problem today, it may soon be, in this “post-Christian” world. Soon “hate” may focus its high-beams on Christian believers. Are you ready? Let injustice break your heart. Even if we can fly under the radar our whole lives, we will answer someday for not sharing out loud the love of Jesus to a world that is becoming increasingly, alarmingly deaf to it. Sow love, fervent love. Let your tongue be the flame that evaporates hate.

 

“Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’” Matthew 25: 37-40