Determination. Sacrifice. Resolve. Commitment. These are just a few of the things that come to mind when considering that which is truly good in life. They are the pathway towards all that is worth having or doing. It’s been said in any number of ways. “The best things in life don’t come easy.” “Nothing in the world is worth having or doing unless it means effort and pain.” You’ve heard it one way or another. We all have. Why? Because it’s a universal human experience. Hard work pays off.
Obedience is often hard work. Faith is hard work. Perhaps the hardest of all that pays the absolute best dividends though, is love. Nothing is harder than love. Probably for the simple reason Paul says: love “endures all things” (1 Corinthians 13:7). The word Paul used for “endures” is ύπομένω (hupomeno). It means to literally “abide” or live under. What Paul is communicating is that love lives and thrives while under intense pressure. It resists capitulation. It “bears up courageously.” Love simply does not take the easy way or the path of least resistance. Love withstands rather than withers. It cannot be defeated because it will not fold.
Hate, on the other hand, is the easy way. It’s floating downstream. It’s natural. It is a release of things that are desperate to get out. It’s lazy, irrational, and most of all, it’s selfish and utterly self-destructive. When God told Cain that sin was crouching at the door yearning for a chance to get in (his life), Cain opened wide the door by his act of hate. I’m sure ending his brother’s life in the blink of an eye was a seeming exquisite release of pent up frustration but when the time came to pay its wages, Cain spoke for every single human being since that day when he wailed, “My punishment is greater than I can bear” (Genesis 4:13). It is for everyone who yields to hate.
Whereas love bears an unparalleled reward, hate always decimates the one who wields it. Poor Cain thought acting upon his hatred would improve his life’s circumstances. He thought he’d be happier without his brother around. He believed his life would actually settle down if he acted on his hate. Here is what he didn’t realize until it was too late. The ultimate punishment was “from your face I shall be hidden” (Genesis 4:14). Let that sink in. Hate had somehow managed to convince Cain that acting upon it would actually bring him closer to God. In abject horror, he discovered it accomplished just the opposite. It guaranteed he would always and forever be hidden from the face of God.
Hate is the ultimate mind-altering hallucinogen. In John 16:2 Jesus revealed just how detached from truth and reality a mind can become that yields to hate:
Indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God.
Hate twists truth and reality. It is an illusion that convinces people that there is gain to be had when in fact, there is nothing ahead but sorrow, regret, and loss. Ultimately, hate is spiritual suicide. Seldom has hatred been unmasked as starkly as Melville was able to when he had Captain Ahab scream, “to the last I grapple with thee; from hell’s heart I stab at thee, for hate’s sake I spit my last breath at thee.”
Sadly, we are immersed in that sentiment in America today. It is literally screaming at us every day now from our television screens, computer monitors, and hand-held devices. It was at the Kavanaugh hearings, the signing of the Reproductive Health Act in New York, the free-for-all around the Covington Catholic High School teens, and pretty much seems to be what is driving every single mainstream media newscast. The real story behind most of the news being reported today is the same: “For hate’s sake I stab at thee!”
Unfortunately, this doesn’t seem to be a season that will crest and eventually subside. The kind of vitriolic unmitigated hatred we’re seeing now is being inculcated in the next generation. Remember the young woman taunting the elderly man in front of the Supreme Court building during the Kavanaugh hearings? Do you think it is safe to be an outspoken conservative on the average college campus in America?
Then there is the 10-year-old boy who won his school’s science fair with a project that supposedly proves Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is a cheater (Not providing a link for this one. You can Google it yourself). Cute right? When asked about his project the adorable little tyke said, “I hate Tom Brady.” When asked what he might say to the quarterback if he ever got to meet him he said, “Gimme some of your money, you don’t deserve it.” His dad is proud as a peacock. Now imagine that in thirty or so years, this little fellow is a U.S. Senator. Think it would be cute then? Decades of congratulations and reward for hatred and a pat on the back for demanding what belongs to others. Now, he’s in charge of making laws. We’re in for a long rough ride. If you think it is bad now with the lawmakers who are currently promoting class warfare and socialism…imagine what we’re in for when a whole generation of kids like this one are in the hallowed halls of Congress. “Gimme your money!”
If only people would learn that the rebound effect on the purveyor of hatred is exponentially worse than the initial action against the other person. Hate isn’t the release people think it is. It’s actually a trap for eternal confinement. Want to know the best way to fully grasp both the enormity and utter futility of hate? Read 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 from the other side of the coin. It would go like this:
Hate is always in a hurry and rude; hate is supremely jealous and self-aggrandizing; it is both bombastic and presumptuous. It insists and demands that others accommodate it; it is snarky and resentful; it makes a celebration of transgression while despising the truth. Hate is intolerant, believes in nothing but itself, is a purveyor of despair, and puts up with nothing from nobody.
Hate promises a release but always and only delivers bondage. It guarantees acceptance but never fails to deliver rejection. It assures us of happiness but wreaks nothing but havoc for everyone involved. Hate guarantees us that we will gain respect and acceptance if we’ll wield it but just ask Cain about that.
The most dangerous thing about hate is that it disguises itself to look and sound just like love. Remember the story of King Solomon and the two women who both laid claim to the same baby (1 Kings 3:16-27)? When Solomon suggested that the baby be cut in half and both women could have half, the true mother was willing to give her son to the imposter so that he might live. Love for her child was willing to endure the pain of losing him to a liar to keep him alive. The other woman was just fine with Solomon’s proposal. She looked just like a loving mother too, but hate wasn’t willing to lose…even at the expense of an innocent baby’s life. Sound familiar?
Here are three Bible passages about love. Few are willing to take them at face value. There always seems to be an addendum added to explain that they really don’t mean what it is clear that they mean. I wonder, in light of what you have read above, if you (and I) can read them and just let them say what they say. They don’t really need an explanation. They’re that obvious. Only hatred within will offer pushback. Let’s see what happens…
Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses (Proverbs 10:12).
Whoever does not love abides in death. Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him (1 John 3:14-15).
But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven (Matthew 5:44-45).
Hate may be expressed in what is done to others but it is really only a thin veneer for one’s own self-loathing.