Reading time: 9 minutes
I Have Hated
I have hated.
I've hated situations, circumstances, and yes, people. Like the word love, hate can get thrown around flippantly. Yet, if there is anything I've talked about as much as singleness, it's that words matter. The ones we read, the ones we write, those we speak to ourselves, and especially those we speak out loud to others.
Our world was created by God speaking words. We were given life from breath! That alone is enough for us to know they are powerful and that they matter. But this isn't as much about the words we speak, but those we first think and believe. Which in turn, will influence how we speak out loud or how we keep quiet. And even our actions.
This morning, I listened to The Daily podcast. Put out by the New York Times, it's a podcast usually around 30 or so minutes that focuses on an issue relevant at hand. This morning, it was on the killing of Rayshard Brooks, the man recently killed at an Atlanta Wendy's. (Warning: very strong language.) Protests and riots ensued afterwards in response to the killing, eventually leading to that Wendy's being burned to the ground. When I learned of the incident with Mr. Brooks, my first thought was disbelief. That again this was happening, in the midst of one of the biggest movements of my lifetime - Black Lives Matter.
Okay listen, I know there are lots of feelings surrounding the phrase and organization of Black Lives Matter (BLM). I'm still fleshing out what it all means to me. Reading and listening and praying, doing the "quiet holy work" as one of my friends wrote me one day. Since the death of George Floyd, I've been wrestling with what to say and when to say it. Feeling caught in a damned if I do, damned if I don't moment. So, I stopped worrying about wanting to say the right or wrong thing and started listening instead. My room is full right now of books (not unusual), but almost every space is spilling over with stories and resources about the history of slavery, the civil rights movement, and racism/antiracism. Recent nights I've fallen asleep with a book or my Bible next to me, maybe even hoping osmosis will work in my favor like I hoped in college during finals weeks. Hoping that all knowledge and information would seep into my skin and through my bloodstream to my heart. It's a lot. I'm still overwhelmed every day. And I don't have it all figured out, I probably never will. But I'm listening and I'm reflecting on where I've hated in the past.
Which leads me back to this morning, after listening to the podcast on Mr. Brooks, I thought to myself two things: what is the actual definition of a hate crime and have I hated? Refer back to the first sentence of this post for my answer. Is it yours? Don't pull away just yet.
A hate crime, also known as a bias-motivated crime, is a prejudice motivated crime which occurs when a perpetrator targets a victim because of their membership (or perceived membership) of a certain social group or race. What is crime? One definition is "an action or activity that, although not illegal, is considered to be evil, shameful, or wrong.
So, have I ever directed an uncalled for action towards another person because of what they look like?
Humbly and sadly again I say, yes.
I have hated.
Where do I go from here? Where do I go after admitting this? In the direction that God, my Father, calls me to go. My response should be one that mirrors His attitude towards anything that is evil. And that is towards hating hate.
Psalm 97:10 says, "Let those who love the Lord hate evil, for He guards the lives of His faithful ones and delivers them from the hand of the wicked."
God hates anything evil and violent. It's all throughout Scripture and cannot be ignored. It's what draws out His righteous justice against people and lands - when violence is directed towards His people, but also when those who follow Him are the evil ones. What is violence? Behavior intending to hurt, damage, or kill. While physical behavior is the most thought of and the most evident after it happens, I go back to what I said at the beginning. Our words, spoken or thought, are powerful. What we hear, what we believe, will drive our actions.
We have found ourselves to be on both sides of this, we cannot confidently say there is no evil, or sin, in us. Friend, if you think you can say that, I ask you to sit and ask the Lord to show you the evil inside of yourself. Sit, ask, and listen. Again, don't pull away from it. Don't pull away from Him who wants to do a great work in and through you.
Biblestudytools.com says that, "hatred proves to be a tangible measurement of evil...it's ugliness may extend in any direction." Tangible. It can be engaged through all our senses and cannot be ignored It's felt in the welps of someone beaten. Seen by the countless videos, in our always online, always watching world. Some taste it in the blood that falls from their face or smell it as tear gas surrounds them. We hear it from the shouts of protestors or a man saying, "I can't breathe."
Align & Abide
1 John 4:19-21 says, "We love because He first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And He has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister."
Treat others the way you want to be treated. It's a lesson we are taught from a young age. The Bible goes further and says we are to love our neighbors as our ourselves and we are to not hate our brothers in our hearts (Leviticus 19:17-18). 1 John 3:15, equates hate to murder in God's sight, "Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him." We, I, cannot continue to live being hateful to brothers and sisters, if I truly desire to be in an abiding relationship with God. All of me must align with all of God.
"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom", according to Proverbs 9:10, and, "to fear the Lord is to hate evil," Proverbs 8:13 says. What stands between us and God? Our sin, our own evilness. We must hate evil and kill it within us, and killing it means we admit that that tangible hate is indeed within us. How do we kill hate? Love. But if we are evil, where is love? It comes to us a person, Jesus Christ, who died a tangible death for us. His death was seen by both those who followed Him and those who mocked Him. It was felt by the hands of Joseph who prepared His body for burial and by the hearts of those who loved Him. Tasted in the tears of His family who watched in the shadow of the Cross and smelled as the vinegar wine soaked a sponge. Death was and is felt deeply. It hurts. Evil hurts.
And love heals.
What keeps us from hating evil and jumping into love? Fear of what others might say? Our families? Those who follow us on social media?
John 7:7 says the world cannot hate us! "The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify that its works are evil," Jesus said Himself. If we are standing against evil, fighting to kill it within ourselves, hating what is hated by God, our response is mirroring God's response because He hates hate! He alone kills it because He is love. And if we are mirroring Him, the response of others to us and our response against hate is not against us, but God Himself!
Evil is not ours to repay, that is God's job alone, because He is the ultimate judge. Proverbs 20:22, "Do not say, 'I'll pay you back for this wrong!' Wait for the Lord, and He will avenge you." God hates evil, He will not just let it go. And His judgment will not look like ours, but we can be sure that is right because He is righteous. We cannot repay evil for evil, but we can fight it. We must fight it and we will want to fight it if we wish for no separation between us and Him.
So, how do we fight hate and hate hate? By love.
Remember the command of Leviticus, reiterated by Jesus, "love your neighbor." Love is shown in many ways, but what is it? "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no records of wrongs." 1 Corinthians 13 tells us. Don't miss this part, "Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres." Always. And verse 8 of chapter 13, one of the greatest declarations of all time, "Love never fails."
It is a promise worth holding tight to, but one we will not fully see here. It's what makes the promise and hope of Heaven also great. Think of your greatest love here on earth right now. Got it? That is but a mere taste of the love we will fully know in Heaven.
Love always protects. Trusts. Hopes. Perseveres.
Perseveres. Keeps going. Stays the course. Fights. Against what the world is saying and against what we may have been taught all our lives and especially against what the enemy may be speaking into our lives. We are saved by God in order to do His good work. I'm reminded by believers who've been doing this reconciliation work a lot longer than I have, that as believers aiming to fight the good fight, we are to no longer live as we once did. Titus 3 says, before saving, we were foolish and disobedient, "we lived in malice and envy" and were "hated and hating one another." There is no place for that when we have truly been saved through the kindness and love of God, and Paul urges us as believers to remember this, so we are careful to devote ourselves "to doing what is good...things that are excellent and profitable for everyone." (Titus 3:8)
In the way that death is tangible, my love for others needs to be tangible. Felt with gentle hands that hold others up, heard by words or shouts against evil, tasted and smelled over meals together with people once seen as strangers. Ultimately all seen by a repentant life.
I have hated. Am I now hating hate? Killing it within me? If not, may I fall before the throne of God, and ask Him to search my heart. Are you hating hate? If not, ask why not. What is keeping you from killing the evil within you? Commit a hate crime against your own hate.
Speak against evil. To yourself, to your family, your friends, your co-workers, your local governments. May we find ourselves only on the side of love. Speaking it. Living it.
And hating hate as we do.
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