Hate Only Hurts Your Heart (365 Days of Daring Faith — DAY 284)
Matthew 5:43-44 (NLT)
You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you!
Listen to any presidential candidate on the campaign trail or in a debate with their opponent and you will see a continuous conversation about how one is better than the other and how what one says about another is unfair and/or untrue. How the other person responds is more of an example of how to and how not to respond when accusations are thrown your way, when you’re treated unfairly, or when someone hates you and wants to hurt you.
Unfairness and injustice are unfortunately a part of the human condition. It’s highly likely that at some point or another in your lifetime you will feel like someone has treated you unfairly or unjustly. Equally as likely is that you will feel you are justified in responded to them with the exact same attitude and actions that they threw your way. It can be a parent, a spouse, a child, an employer, an employee, an institution — whenever and wherever we feel treated unfairly is an opportunity for us to make a choice.
There are two ways we can respond to unfair or unjust treatment. We can respond by hurting those who hurt us. That’s the easy way out and that leads to more problems such as more people getting hurt and tragically, people lose their lives when we do this. Or we can respond with love and grace. Loving the people who hurt you, showing grace to the people who hate you is how God wants us to respond. It’s not the easy way, but it’s the best way.
Hate only hurts your heart. It ruins your opportunity to develop relationships with other people. It keeps the person who is the object of your hate at the forefront of your mind and prevents you functioning in a normal capacity. Why? Because the person who you hate and seemingly can’t love now controls you. You can’t control how people treat you, but you can control to how you respond to their treatment.
The current response to unfairness and injustice from the majority of the world is more violence, more crime, more hate, more protests, more riots. Believers should learn to respond with the exact opposite. Hate can only be changed with love. Violence can only put to rest by grace. Responding with love and grace does not mean we allow the actions to continue. It is the exact opposite of that. We fight for justice without seeking revenge or retaliating. Seeking justice is both love and grace.
Believers follow the example of Jesus. Jesus faced every unfair treatment imaginable. Yet he didn’t seek revenge, he didn’t retaliate, he didn’t respond to hate with hate; he responded with love. He didn’t allow people to control him with their actions or words. Instead, he chose to forgive, to love, and to show grace. Unfairness and injustice will always be with us. But believers don’t feed into that or turn a blind eye to it. Instead, we should respond to hate with love, injustice with grace, violence with civility, and unfairness with kindness.
“Suffering is unbearable if you aren’t certain that God is for you and with you.”
— Tim Keller