Did you know that hate is a very good thing . . . when it is directed at the right object and delivered in such a way that it does not cause us to sin?
Let those who love the Lord hate evil. (Psalm 97:10)
Here we see the positive aspect of a holy hatred. All those who love God must hate every evil. To be sure, the longer we walk with our Lord and the closer we get to Him, the more we will hate the things He hates. This is one of the surest proofs that we are in Christ. As we become increasingly more conformed to His image, we will increasingly hate all the things God hates. God hates sin . . . we are to hate sin. God hates injustice . . . we are to hate injustice. God hates death . . . we are to hate death. These are holy hatreds; as the apostle Paul wrote to the Christians at Ephesus, “Be angry, and do not sin” (Ephesians 4:26 NKJV). We can hate and still not be in sin.
An unholy hatred, however, is a poison that leads to death by slowly eating away at us from the inside out. What starts as an infection, if left untreated, winds up a malady. Make no mistake, the Scriptures remind us that hatred left unchecked becomes a “root of bitterness” that springs up within our hearts (Hebrews 12:15). An unholy hatred destroys both our walk with Jesus and our witness to others. That “root of bitterness” is like a time bomb, just waiting to explode and devastate our testimony. The key to keep this from happening is to keep short accounts with everyone about everything and to actually live out the fifth petition of the Lord’s Prayer:—“Forgive our debts as we forgive our debtors”—for the glory of God.
The model for living out this forgiveness, of course, was supplied to us by the Lord Jesus Christ. Does Jesus hate evil? You need look no further than His cleansing of the temple to see that He most certainly does!
He made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! How dare you turn my Father’s house into a market!” (John 2:15-16)
But Jesus was the perfect, sinless Lamb of God. He never once sinned in His anger. And when He was on the receiving end of a hatred more unholy than anything in all humanity’s history . . . He showed the amazing grace of God. Was there ever a being so lovely, so kind, so gracious, so merciful, and so loving as Jesus? And yet from the moment of His birth—when the sword of Herod sought to end His divine life, throughout His three-plus years in ministry—right up to His dying breath on the cross, an unholy hatred followed Him everywhere He went.
This unholy hatred was hurled at Him by both enemies and friends. You will remember that the cries of the crowd changed from “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” to “Crucify Him!” in less than a week. Before the fresh-cut palm fronds they were waving during Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem had even turned brown, the crowd swung from exaltation to execution.
They hated me without reason. (John 15:25)
Never was there a reason to hate our Lord. Yet from the religious leaders to the Roman authorities to the common and the poor, their voices were unified in their unholy hatred for Jesus Christ. They laughed and mocked Him as He hung in agony on that cross. And how did Jesus respond? “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). Here was the vilest, the unholiest hatred the world has ever conceived; yet instead of calling down fire from heaven, Jesus called down forgiveness!
If you should one day find yourself on the receiving end of some kind of unholy hatred, take it to the cross. Keep firmly in your mind what our Lord did when confronted with it; the most unimaginable unholy hatred could not conquer His holy love!
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!