How Much Do You Have to Hate?

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How much do you hate people?

That’s quite a loaded question isn’t it? I’m sure your initial response is “I don’t hate people!” You may not, but I think if many of us took the time to really think about how we feel sometimes… there may very well be a level of hatred toward others that we’re reluctant to admit is in our hearts. Still feel this doesn’t apply to you? When was the last time you looked at someone judgmentally, perhaps with a disgusted look on your face, because of something they were doing or how they appeared? When was the last time you reached out to that downright cruel individual to help them with something they needed? When did you last avoid that person in the store because it would just be “awkward”? These things don’t normally fall under the hate category, but maybe they should. After all, if hate is the opposite of love and the feelings you have for someone at a given moment couldn’t be further from LOVE, then what do you call it?

Let me get really personal here so you don’t feel like I’m trying to step on your toes. I want to share a part of my testimony that will hopefully get us off our rears regarding others and Christ’s call to love them unconditionally.

About 8-9 years ago I was faced with quite a heart issue that I didn’t know how to fix on my own. I had a problem that stemmed from many different causes and left me painfully enduring life in general. I HATED people. I don’t mean to say that flippantly, I truly mean that even driving down the road, walking through the mall, shopping for groceries, wherever I was, almost every individual I saw stirred an overwhelming feeling of disgust in the bottom of my gut. I hated men for various reasons and women for various others. Granted, I loved my family- but that was about it. Sounds harsh right? It’s true though, and I don’t mind sharing because God uses our honesty for His glory when given in love.

This feeling had been eating away at my heart for a few years and it only got worse as time went on. The best thing I can liken it to is a bruised apple. At first, a small bump causes the apple to soften and carry with it a small blemish that serves as a reminder of the hurt. If the bruise is cut out then the apple remains  fresh and can be pleasantly eaten within a reasonable amount of time. However, if left alone, eventually the damage will spread. Rottenness will start to burrow itself in the tender flesh and, before too long, the apple itself is rotten to the core with no hope for recovery. Now, imagine my heart as that apple. I had been bruised from different, though seemingly small, bumps and injuries. My heart was a little damaged but I didn’t pay much attention to the signs. The signs I ignored were like the ones I alluded to earlier (bitterness, judgmental glances, bouts of disgust, avoidance, etc.). I thought it was fairly normal to feel those things and so I ignored them. The problem was, rottenness had started to set in. My dislike of particular people had spread to a general disgust of the masses. My “injuries” had caused a putrid rancidness that enveloped my heart and left me trapped in my own rotten negativity. The sad part is, I was very much a Christian while this was going on. I was saved but spiritually I was struggling with many different things… satan used that low time in my life to gain a foothold and set me against humanity. Talk about an evil agenda!

I remember driving down the road one day and passing just a few people walking down the street. No big deal, nothing wrong and nothing that should have made them stand out for any reason; simply individuals getting to where they needed to be. Yet, I felt angry and bitter in my heart towards them FOR NO REASON AT ALL! It was in that moment that my spirit was done with me using my heart as a harbor for hatred. (Say that five times fast!) God had allowed me to entertain that sin in my spirit long enough and He was done. I started to cry-talk to God; you know, that type of talking when you really only say every other word because the other ones are spent gasping for breath? I cried out and admitted that something was wrong with me… not with other people as I had previously convinced myself, but with ME. Denial was my best friend up until that point- but no longer! I told my Father how I wanted to change but how deeply disgusted I was with human beings. While I did not hear God audibly (if I had, I probably would’ve wrecked the car), I very distinctly heard God whisper to my chaotic spirit; “You cannot love me and hate my children.”

Woah… I was flabbergasted to say the least. I knew it was true, it wasn’t like a new discovery on my part, but it was something I had been avoiding and refused to think too much about. I knew this was a Scripture for I had read it many times before:

If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. -1 John 4:20

God switched it up a bit for me though… in a split second He changed the Scripture I had always known into one I didn’t want to hear. In 1 John 4:20 it says “his brother”. Well, I certainly didn’t feel like these random people were worth calling brother or sister so I just ignored it. (I told y’all, I’m being honest here. Can you honestly admit you’ve ignored Scripture before?) God whispered to my heart this truth from Scripture, but with it- changed how I saw others. Instead of being reminded that these people were my brothers and sisters, he allowed my personally-chosen distance for a moment and called them His children. He took me out of the picture. Instead of me seeing these other people in relation to me (because honestly, I didn’t want to), He reminded me point-blank that regardless of who they were to me, they were HIS children. Ouch. That means that no matter how terrible I thought they were, how separated I wanted to remain from them, and how little I thought of them for undeserved reasons, they were still HIS!

I had no problem loving my Heavenly Father, but once He reminded me of that verse the game changed. If I had been able to hear his voice I promise I would have, because that’s how plainly he spoke to me in that car. Not only did He confront me with that altered verse… but then He gave me a choice immediately after. He said; “Today, choose. You can go on hating others, but if you want to love me then you HAVE to love my children. Period. What’s it going to be?” Geez, that cut me to the quick! Thank the Lord that the rottenness in my heart had not been allowed to spread so deep that I was deaf to the voice of my Abba. Thank God that He stopped me before I was too far gone. With only a moment spent in consideration I said, out loud, “There’s no decision to think about God, I will always choose you.” From that point on I knew I had to change, but again, I couldn’t be the one to do it. No matter how much I wished to change, I knew it couldn’t happen by my power. God had to be the one to make the changes in me.

The apple cannot cut away the rottenness on its own… there must be one to wield the knife. I surrendered that day; through my tears, I surrendered. While in that car I had a “Moses-moment” where my first reaction to the voice of God was “but God, I can’t!” It was OK though, He already knew that. He taught me a trick that day that I can apply to EVERY OTHER AREA OF MY LIFE that needs to change. I’m going to teach it to you because I PROMISE, it will never be wasted effort. Here it is, are you ready?

Pray.

I’m not just talking about praying for you to change. God told me that obedience comes first and the emotions follow afterwards. I might not “feel” like praying for that person on the street, but if my first reaction to just quickly lift them up in prayer, eventually things would change in my own heart. It took a long time- no overnight healing for this girl. However, I got into the habit of praying (very quickly mind you) for every single person that I saw on the street, then every person I passed or made eye contact with in the store, then every person I saw on T.V. Yes, even the people on the television made me mad. Sad, I know. I started praying for their salvation, their families, their healing, even their attitudes. Eventually, I started seeing those people walking around as souls instead of just bodies. I saw God’s love for those people, not their lack of love for others (not to mention my own). Pretty soon I was no longer bitter and hateful, I was prayerful and hopeful. Here’s the kicker though, my Abba, going right along with His natural track-record, not only was faithful to my prayer to change but He went above and beyond! I don’t just NOT hate people now- I truly, without reservation, LOVE them! I mean, instead of walking down the street and feeling like I want to slug someone, I want to hug them! Only God can do that… I could never change my own heart in that drastic of a way. Praise God, I truly do love now, to my core. It started with my decision to obey (even though it took me way too long to do it) and God changed ME as a result.

The clencher I want to leave you with is this: while you may not have the heart issue I did, I would say it’s a safe bet you have SOME KIND of heart issue. 9 times out of 10 it’s an issue regarding other people. Call your feelings what they are and be honest with yourself and God! If you still don’t think you hate people then stew over this last thought: when is the last time you shared the Gospel with someone? Ooooooooh, didn’t see that one coming did ya? If we truly hold the key to everlasting salvation, then how much do we really have to hate someone to let them die in their sins without even trying to share the Good News of Jesus’ sacrifice and love with them? Loving people means you care more about their souls than their smirks and more about their redemption than their ridicule. So, I ask again, how much do you have to hate someone? Start praying that God fixes your heart and then start praying for those other people… I promise, you will have a change of attitude and hopefully, a renewed fervor for sharing God’s salvation with the people around you. Don’t be a hater- trust me, it’s no picnic.

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