By Justin Edwards
Webster defines hate to mean "to express or feel extreme enmity or active hostility." Synonyms for hate include abhor, abominate, despise, detest, execrate, and loathe. As much as I don't like green beans (except french-cut in green bean casserole - yes, one of my peculiarities), I cannot honestly say I abhor or despise them. Linguistically-speaking, there would not necessarily be anything wrong with using these type of verbs, but does the weight of my distaste for green beans justify their usage?
We find the word "hate" throughout the Bible and it is often used by the Lord to reveal the detestation the wicked have for Him. And of those who hate God? This is what the Lord says of their fate in Deuteronomy 32:40-42:
For I raise My hand to heaven,
And say, “As I live forever,
41 If I whet My glittering sword,
And My hand takes hold on judgment,
I will render vengeance to My enemies,
And repay those who hate Me.
42 I will make My arrows drunk with blood,
And My sword shall devour flesh,
With the blood of the slain and the captives,
From the heads of the leaders of the enemy.”’
Quite the different sentiment than a "hatred" of green beans, yes? As we see in Scripture, to hate something is serious business. As born again believers, we are commanded to walk in love at all times. In fact, there is never an excuse under the sun to ever hate any person as Jesus says in Matthew 5:43-44,
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you...
To hate anyone or be angry with them without just cause is to commit murder in your heart (Matthew 5:21-22). In 1 John 4:20 we are told,
If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?
Indeed, this person is said to be walking in darkness who hates his brother (1 John 2:9,11). Without righteous cause (Ephesians 4:26-27), we should never let anyone or anything drive us to hatred (Hebrews 12:15). And our hatred should never be directed towards another human being no matter what they might have done to offend us. Remember, we are to love all of our enemies.
Is there ever a time that we should hate? Most certainly, but this is not directed toward people. It is directed towards the very things that God hates, namely evil. Consider the following Scriptures:
Psalm 97:10a You who love the LORD, hate evil!
Psalm 101:3 I will set nothing wicked before my eyes;
I hate the work of those who fall away;
It shall not cling to me.
Psalm 119:104 Through Your precepts I get understanding;
Therefore I hate every false way.
Psalm 119:113 I hate the double-minded,
But I love Your law.
Psalm 119:128 Therefore all Your precepts concerning all things
I consider to be right;
I hate every false way.
Proverbs 8:13 The fear of the LORD is to hate evil;
Pride and arrogance and the evil way
And the perverse mouth I hate.
Proverbs 13:5 A righteous man hates lying,
But a wicked man is loathsome and comes to shame.
We are to hate ungodliness, wickedness, idolatry, vanity, pride, deception, lying, perversion and all other sin. These are the things God hates; they are an abomination to Him. Anything that opposes the holiness and character of God we are to detest with all of our heart, mind, and soul. We are to hate anything that opposes the truth of God, which means we are to hate anything that seeks to replace the truth with a lie. We are to hate immorality, injustice, and everything that calls evil good. Yet, despite the things we are to hate, we must never make the immoral, corrupt, degenerate, ungodly, or proud person the object of this hatred. On the contrary, we must love them and speak the truth to them in love (Ephesians 4:15).
God is love (1 John 4:8-9), and it is the very fruit of His character that permeates the life of the Christian (Galatians 5:22). We are to love our neighbors (Luke 10:27), love our enemies (Luke 6:27-28), and love our brethren (John 13:34) all the same. This love is an unconditional, sacrificial love (agape love) that is impossible to emanate apart from abiding in the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Apostle Paul exhorts us in Ephesians 5:1-2,
Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. 2 And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.
I believe one of the ways that may help us walk in love is to examine something as simple as our vocabulary and its usage. Personally-speaking, I have found the less I use the word "hate" in such trivial things as disliking green beans, the more removed hate will be from my heart and the more the word can be reserved for things that I should truly hate, abhor, and detest (evil). Maybe there's a sports team that you "hate", or an annoying TV show, or certain weather or seasons, or dogs, or eating habits, or exercise, or food, or job, or school work, or any number of things that repulse you. But do you really hate it? Even if you do, is it something worth hating?
In my walk I am realizing
Yes, "hate" is an ugly word as I'm sure we all heard growing up, but there is indeed a time when we should hate things. By looking into the perfect wisdom of God's Word, the things we should hate and not hate are clear. When I use the word hate, I want it to hold weight, and I want it to be reserved for the things I should genuinely hate - the very things that God hates. The less trivial things I "hate", the more I can walk honestly, uprightly, nobly, with integrity, and in good character. Let's be resolved to choose our words wisely, for:
Death and life are in the power of the tongue,
And those who love it will eat its fruit.- Proverbs 18:21
Now, Thanksgiving is just a few weeks away - who's bringing the casserole?