So, hate. Not my favorite word. I hold strongly to the general mom-ism that scolds, “We don’t say hate. You may strongly dislike it, but you don’t hate it.” Granted, we are almost always talking about my cooking, but still. It’s a strong word and I fight hard to convince my children to think through their words and use them well.
How does my mom-self make peace with the fact that the ESV translation of the Bible uses the word hate 169 times? How do I explain to my children that there are in fact times to hate according to Ecclesiastes 3:8:
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.
Yesterday’s devotion was pretty abstract so let’s try to get down to some practical nuts and bolts in today’s study. Just like yesterday, though, we can only understand love and hate through the piecing out of what lies in Truth and what lies in our experiences.
First – Most of the time hate in the Bible is a human expression between two people.
This kind of hate is always outside of God’s will for us. Leah was hated by Jacob. Joseph was hated by his brothers. People hated one another and caused harm to one another. Yuck. This is not our God at work.
Second – Sometimes hate is directed at God.
Deuteronomy 5 instructs us that there are two responses in our relationship with God. We can love God with our whole heart, soul, mind, and strength, or we can hate Him. There’s no lukewarm in God’s economy.
Third – God does hate some things.
Again, Deuteronomy says it super clearly…
And you shall not set up a pillar, which the Lord your God hates. (Deut. 16:22)
Idols. God hates them. They steal us from him, and if you remember from yesterday sometimes we are called to help others topple idols, as well as let others in, to topple ours. This doesn’t always look like love to the world, but it is.
The Lord tests the righteous,
but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence. (Psalm 11:5)
There are six things that the Lord hates,
seven that are an abomination to him:17 haughty eyes, a lying tongue,
and hands that shed innocent blood,18 a heart that devises wicked plans,
feet that make haste to run to evil,19 a false witness who breathes out lies,
and one who sows discord among brothers.
Again, wickedness and violence afflicted on His people, on His children, on His created…He hates it. Why? Because it hurts. Painful words, not ok. Plots and plans against anyone. He hates it.
So God’s hate, it’s still wrapped in love.
Fourth – God calls us to hate. But only so we can fully love.
I think one of the most fascinating and difficult passages of Scripture can be found in
“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.”
If you have your Bible out, you can read the parables that Jesus puts with this statement for a fuller understanding. For here, we’ll put this statement in the context of Scripture as a whole.
Jesus wants all of us.
Mark 12:30 tells us…
“And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”
This message crosses the Old and New Covenants as God instructs His people in Deuteronomy and then puts himself in usto make it reality at Pentecost. It’s wild! What a God we have!
Jesus wants us to lose our life, to lose putting relationships and people and things and plans ahead of Him, so that we can gain everything, which isHim. He uses the strong word of hate in Luke 24 because it’s black and white. “Me or everything else,” He says.
We hate the idea of anything- mother, brother, friend, job, children, even church – being more than Him in our lives. When we cling to Him fast in the Spirit, we will know boundless love that we can not even imagine.
Sound too legalistic? I promise there is a practical application to this. We can love God and fill our life with stuff and people and crazy amounts of love. We can even love the stuff and the people more than God and still be saved. We’ll go to heaven, we aren’t less of a believer, but what we will be missing is the abundant life, the surrendered life, for sure. And it’s a mighty fine line.
Jesus gave us all of Himself.
Because of that, I can give Him all of me.
Jesus tells us that this is better than giving Him part and giving my family and friends and the stuff of life part. When He has all of me, He fills in all the blanks because I’ve handed it all to Him. He loves my mother and my brother and my neighbor and all of it through me and that is infinitely better than I could ever do on my own.
Let Him love, sister. Let Him take over all of you. Let Him fill in all the crevices and relationships so that the people in your life can be truly loved, limitlessly.
This means we say no to some things. This means we may move away, or spend our holiday differently than our family prefers. This means we may chose a God plan that no one likes, or share a Gospel that no one wants to hear. It may make for difficult relationships on this earth…but eternity together.
So it’s probably time for me to make a little peace with the word hate. It sounds so ugly, but God makes the ugly beautiful in His time. I’m going to hate what isn’t Him, so that He can fill in those dark places with His Light.
Placing it all into His loving care.
Lord, help us to love you with our whole hearts and to let your Spirit well up in us and guide us and lead us. In You, Lord, there is Peace and Life and Truth and true Love. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.
Have you ever had a relationship made difficult by your belief in Jesus?
How do you share Jesus with those in your family (or friends) who do not know Him?
Who can we pray for in your life to come to know Jesus’s love for them?
*photo and typing credit goes to Macee Goehmann, ever my cohort 🙂