By Trevor Trokey
Hate is defined as “intense or passionate dislike.” Jesus shows us how hate and love are opposites when he says, “No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be devoted to one and despise the other…” (Luke 16:13). Just as love is shown with emotions, words, and actions, hate has several manifestations as well. We spend ample time discussing biblical love, God’s love, and what love looks like. We should discuss these things. However, we do well to spend time understanding hate as well. The bible talks about hate and we should too.
Proverbs 6:16-19 begins with, “There are six things which the LORD hates…” The writer then goes on to lay out several sins from pride, to murder and a few in between. God hates sin, and we must too. In fact, if we go back to Luke 16:13, we see that as Christians, we must hate Satan, the master of the world, father of lies, and enemy of God in the Great War. Christians must be vehemently opposed to Satan, his grasp on the world, and every act of ungodliness.
As with anything, hatred can be misdirected and taken too far – in these cases, it is sinful. In fact, according to 1 John 2:9-11, whoever hates his brother is in darkness; that’s no place for a Christian and most certainly does not depict a saved relationship with God. In Matthew 5:21-24, several situations are described in which a person acts hatefully towards their brother. Jesus says each of these acts of hate is the same as murder, just as he likens lust with adultery in verses 27-28.
On the other hand, there is a fine line, not between love and hate, but between the things we are to hate, and the people we are to love. Jude 23 instructs, “…to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.” To sinners, we must be careful to show mercy with fear. In so doing, we must be so against sin that we “hate even the garment stained by the flesh.” This language depicts a deliberate and drastic dichotomy commonly reduced to sayings like, “Love the sinner, hate the sin.” This is – and must be – an uncompromising approach to saving sinners.
Finally, we must recognize – and help the world to recognize – that without God as our guide, we are incapable of love. We may have favorable dispositions towards others, and we may be kind in our dealings, but anything shy of putting their soul first is what Paul describes as the convert’s state before putting on Christ: “hateful, hating one another.” We do well to point out that the worldly do not understand love; love does not tolerate sin. We must also recognize and teach that the world does not understand that what it often portrays as love is actually what God would esteem as hate. To condone sin is to hate the sinner’s soul; to love one’s soul is to hate and condemn their sin. Let us love all, showing mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.