Oh, I would never hate anyone. I go to church and read my Bible. After all, I’m a Christian and Christians don’t hate! Right?
Okay…maybe I don’t “like”, but I definitely don’t hate!
Love? Oh no way… you have no idea what he did to me!
Hum…Maybe I do have hate in my heart.
Do these statements resonate with you? Do you dare even think about them?
I don’t hate! Uh, I just don’t love. Okay, I don’t like.
Fluff it up to make it sound better, but we all know there’s a difference. Here’s my story.
About a decade ago a young man became involved with my family. This person, not a Christian, brought with him deception, selfishness, and destruction. As a result, my entire family reaped the consequences of another person’s poor decisions. We were pushed headfirst into a pit of despair.
It was during this time that I was up early one morning, reading my Bible and praying to God.
I read John 14:15 which says, “If you love me, keep my commands.”
I genuinely thought, I love you, God!
Even as I thought that…I stammered. The emotion surprised me and I even looked around the room to see if God was looking. Weird, right? But I knew something was wrong.
Within a few minutes, the tears began to drip from my eyes. They puddled upon my papers.
I don’t hate! Uh, I just don’t love. Okay, I don’t like.
In complete stillness, God showed me that although I loved Him, I wasn’t obeying Him. You see, I was beginning to hate the person that was negatively invading and hurting my family. I had never hated anyone before.
He deserves to be hated for all the horrible things he’s done!
But thankfully God was persistent and He got through to me. I began to understand that although I felt he deserved to be hated, God loved Him.
What, God? What do I do? I can’t deliberately choose disobedience and risk my relationship with You God! I can’t do this on my own. Please show me how to respond in a way that will glorify You.
I wondered if God expected me to love hateful people the way I love my best friends.
I prayed… a lot. I read His Word…a lot.
During these urgent times with God, I began to understand that by loving people we do not know, or acquaintances, or people who have deliberately or indirectly hurt us, means that we don’t wish them any harm. We do not secretly get happy at their pain or misfortune, and we do not behave in a way that is rude in front of them.
Within 24 hours I got even more of the answer I so desperately was seeking…in God’s Word:
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Ephesians 6:12 NIV
Like a red flag being waved right in front of my face, I got it! I do not fight flesh—this young man—I fight against Satan, who is using this person to make me anger and hate. I boldly admitted that I had hate in my heart and humbly asked God to help me deal with it.
I felt FREE! I felt relieved. I immediately realized my fight wasn’t with another person but with Satan. Weird as this might sound, but I could transfer my hate to Satan…where it belonged.
Once I recognized my sinful attitude, asked forgiveness, and asked God for direction, the forgiveness and love gradually came. I prayed every morning asking God to help me, and He did. Sometimes I had to pray throughout the day, as my anger popped up. For months I needed to pray very specifically for this emotion. Slowly, though, my hateful thoughts became less frequent. And over time the hate dissolved completely.
Can you relate? Maybe you have experienced:
- Betrayal of a spouse?
- Betrayal of a best friend?
- Devastating gossip?
- A backstabbing co-worker?
- Jealousy that led to hate?
I was healed. And you can be too. Through God’s mercy and forgiveness, He faithfully provides the answers:
- Realize who you are fighting against.
- Pray often, especially when the person you hate comes to mind.
- Ask God to forgive you.
- Pray for the person you hate–it becomes an act of worship and obedience.
John 4:4 says we have overcome the enemy because, “Greater is He who is in us than he who is in the world.” And 2 Corinthians 10:5 says to, “Take every thought captive to Christ.”
Sure, we can justify our thoughts because we are real people with very real emotions. But God promises to help us deal with our sinful attitudes so that we can be in a right relationship with Him.
I enjoy writing inspirational blogs but this one was hard. And it might be hard for you to read, especially when there is conviction. However, I was compelled to write this, for I want you to experience the freedom I had when I released this hate to God. That freedom can be yours for the asking.
Next week I will share the testimony of another woman who hated a woman in her same church.
Yep, hard stories, but very real.
And while it may be hard to be so transparent to share our ugly truth, it is right and beneficial for others.
Oh, and the young man? I rarely, if ever, see him. He never changed his ways. But that year, God changed me.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (NIV)
Debbie is co-founder of Shine! Ministries and a partner with The Polished Conference. She is the author of one Bible Study, “Shine! Young Women Radiating the Love of God,” available fall, 2015. In addition, Debbie is an adjunct instructor in the Education Department at Montreat College. She would love to speak at your next women’s event. For more information visit her website: www.debbiepresnell.com or visit her page on facebook: shineministriesnc. Contact her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.