Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy’” (Mt 5:43). Two thousand years later we are still hearing the same thing! “Hate those who hate you!” “Retaliate when someone harms you or your loved ones!” “Destroy those who threaten our national interests!” “The unjust don’t deserve justice.” We hear it so much, the media and entertainment industry immerse us in so heavily, that it starts to sound right to us. Our worldviews, politics, and our thoughts toward and treatment of others can be affected.
“You have heard that it was said…” can easily become what we’re used to. It can easily become what we are saying too. But that’s what OTHERS say. Jesus then said, “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you” (Mt 5:44).
I will not try to even suggest that loving others (especially our enemies) is easy. But remember that Jesus is trying to make us different from the world. He’s trying to make us like He is – like GOD is! Jesus reminds us that worldly people love those who love them (5:46) If that is all we do, is there anything commendable about that? But if we love the unlovable – now that’s something special! That’s not just being different, it’s being godly!
To fight hate we are going to have to intentionally choose not to hate. In some situations it will be hard. Sometimes it will be a habit we have to break. Sometimes it will be prejudice we hadn’t seen in ourselves. Sometimes it will be words or actions that are hurting others. Sometimes it will be for people who have threatened or even actually hurt us or our loved ones. But still, followers of Jesus are not to hate.
When it is hard not to hate, here are some practical ideas from Scripture that can help:
- Let God be Judge – 2 Pe 2:23
- Let God “repay” – Ro 12:19
- Look for good to think about – Ph 4:8
- Value your soul the most – Mk 8:36
- Make spiritual things #1 – Mt. 6:33
- Place treasure in heaven – Mt 6:21
- Find encouragers – He 10:24-25
- Confess failures – Ja 5:16
- Pray for enemies – Mt 5:44
- Pray for God’s help and strength – 2 Th 3:3
- Pray for wisdom – Ja 1:5
Jesus ended the above discussion by saying, “Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect” (5:48). To love all men in all situations – to expel hatred from our hearts – is a great mark of godliness. dd