Love and Hate
How much do you hate people? That’s quite a loaded question isn’t it? I’m sure your initial response is, “I don’t hate people!” Maybe not, but I think if many of us took the time to really think about how we feel sometimes there may very well be a level of hatred toward others that we’re reluctant to admit is in our hearts. Still don’t feel like this applies to you? When was the last time you looked at someone judgmentally, perhaps with a disgusted look on your face, because of something they were doing or how they appeared? When was the last time you reached out to that downright cruel individual to help them with something they needed? When did you last avoid that person in the store because it would just be “awkward”? You reason it out with logic so that these things won’t fall under the hate category, but maybe they should.
Let me get really personal here so you don’t feel like I’m trying to step on your toes because I promise I’m preaching to myself here too. I want to share a part of my testimony that will hopefully get us all off our rears regarding loving others.
About 10 years ago, I was faced with quite a heart issue that I didn’t know how to fix on my own. I had a problem that stemmed from many different roots and left me painfully “enduring” life in general. I HATED people. I don’t mean to say that flippantly, I truly mean that even driving down the road, walking through the mall, shopping for groceries, wherever I was, almost every individual I saw stirred an overwhelming feeling of disgust in the bottom of my gut. Granted, I loved my family-but that was about it. (I don’t mind sharing this because I believe God uses our honesty for His glory when given in love.)
This feeling had been eating away at my heart for several years and it only got worse as time went on. The best analogy I have for describing what happened in my heart is a bruised apple. At first, a small bump or cut causes the apple to soften and carry with it a blemish that serves as a reminder of the hurt. If the damaged part is cut out then the apple remains fresh and can be pleasantly eaten within a reasonable amount of time. However, if left alone, the damage will spread. Rottenness will start to burrow itself in the tender flesh and, before too long, the apple itself is rotten to the core with no hope for recovery. My heart had been bruised from different, though seemingly small, bumps and injuries. It was a little damaged but I didn’t pay much attention to the signs. I thought it was fairly normal to feel those things and so I ignored them. The problem was that rottenness had started to set in. My dislike of particular people had spread to an overwhelming disgust of the masses. My “injuries” had caused a putrid rancidness that enveloped my heart and left me trapped in my own rotten negativity. The sad part is-I was very much a Christian while this was going on. I was saved, but spiritually I was struggling with many different things and satan used that low time in my life to gain a foothold and set me against humanity. Talk about an evil agenda!
God had allowed me to entertain that sin in my spirit long enough and He was done! One afternoon, while driving in the car, I started to cry-talk to God; you know, that type of talking when you really only say every other word because the other ones are spent gasping for breath? I cried out and admitted that something was wrong with me… not with other people as I had previously convinced myself, but with ME! I told my Father how I wanted to change but how deeply disgusted I was with human beings. While I did not hear God audibly (if I had, I probably would’ve wrecked the car), I very distinctly heard God whisper to my chaotic spirit; “You cannot love me and hate my children.” Whoa… I was flabbergasted to say the least. I knew it was true, it wasn’t like a new discovery on my part, but it was something I had been avoiding and refused to think too much about.
God reminded me of a Scripture that I had read many times before:
“If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen.” –1 John 4: 20 (NASB)
God switched it up a bit for me though… in a split second He changed the Scripture I had always known into one I didn’t want to hear. In this verse it says “his brother”. Well, I certainly didn’t feel like these random people were worth calling brother or sister. (I told y’all, I’m being honest here.) So, God switched it up to wake me up. Instead of being reminded that these people were my brothers and sisters, he allowed my personally-chosen distance for a moment and called them “His children”. He took me out of the picture entirely. Since I didn’t want to see other people in relation to me, He reminded me point-blank that regardless of who they were to me, they were HIS children. Ouch. That meant that no matter how terrible I thought they were, how separated I wanted to remain from them, and how little I thought of them for undeserved reasons, they were still HIS!
He gave me a choice immediately after and said; “Today, choose. You can go on hating others, but if you want to love Me then you HAVE to love my children. Period. What’s it going to be?” Geez, that cut me to the quick! With only a moment spent in consideration I said, out loud, “There’s no decision to think about God, I will always choose you.” To make a long story just a bit shorter… God started (slowly) changing me by telling me to pray over everyone I saw regardless of how I felt. Now when I see strangers I feel deep, soul-felt love, not hatred, and only our God can make that kind of change.
The reason I share this experience is this: while you may not have the same heart issue I did, I would say it’s a safe bet you have SOME KIND of issue and 9 times out of 10 it’s an issue regarding other people. Call your feelings what they are and be honest with yourself and God! If you still don’t think you harbor any hatred toward people then stew over this last thought: when is the last time you shared the Gospel with someone? The opposite of love is not hatred… but apathy and indifference. If we truly hold the key to everlasting salvation, then how much do we really have to “hate” someone to let them die in their sins without even trying to share the Good News of Jesus’ sacrifice and love with them? Loving people means you care more about their souls than their smirks and more about their redemption than their ridicule. We can’t love God and not share His salvation with His children-the Bible tells us so.