Posts Tagged ‘hate’

There is no redeeming value to resentment. From hate to exasperation to wrath, there’s not a synonym in the group that I should want to practice. And yet. . .

But avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife. And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient . . . [2 Timothy 2:23-24, NKJV] In the NIV in verse 24 says, “And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful.

I have discovered that resentment is right up there with disappointment. They have the same root in the heart. They are both married to expectations and ultimately “control.” I am resentful when things don’t go the way I expect them to go. I am disappointed when things don’t turn out the way I had dreamed they would. As though I know what is the best way, the best time, the best outcome.

There is nothing wrong, I think, in dreaming and hoping for a particular end result or a good conclusion, but the trick is integrating the reality that does not line up with the dream.

We all want perfect children with straight “A’s” and exquisite manners. We can model these behaviors and teach and tutor and guide. But guess what? Things don’t always work out. And if that child/spouse/friend/colleague does not perform accordingly, what is our response? Resentment or patient love?

Patience is love. And love is patience. [Love is patient, love is kind. I Corinthians 13:4]

I can remember other believers warning me (jokingly – sort of) never to pray for patience for God will allow all kinds of challenging events to come along to “try” this patience, to grow patience, to practice patience. But never did I think about patience as love itself. Of course, we should ask for/pray for/practice patience in the same way we ask to love, to forgive, to be compassionate etc.

In the last year or so, I have been indulging a boatload of resentment for my circumstances. I live in a small house and have very little personal space. My adult daughter and her 21 month old son live with me. They dominate the environment. I love my family, of course, I say, but I also resent their habits, their noise, their choices, their impacts. So, is that love?

Resentment is a nice word for hate. And that is unacceptable. Ever. Lord forgive me.

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stubborn muleWhy did God choose plagues? In Exodus chapters 7-10, we read about liquid plagues, hopping plagues, flying plagues, buzzing plagues, animal dying plagues, skin plagues, weather plagues, lighting plagues, and finally, the straw that broke the Pharaoh’s back, people dying plagues.

But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and though I multiply my signs and wonders in Egypt, he will not listen to you. Then I will lay my hand on Egypt and with mighty acts of judgment I will bring out my divisions, my people the Israelites. And the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord when I stretch out my hand against Egypt and bring the Israelites out of it. [Exodus 7:3-5]

A cursory look at some commentaries indicates that many of the ten plagues appear to correspond with a particular “god” the Egyptians worshiped and in this way, Yahweh was demonstrating superiority over these gods. And certainly, if these miraculous plagues were intended to make a point, an indelible memory, they certainly did that. Although we may not remember all of the types of plagues or how many there were, most people have visceral reaction to one or more of the manifestations. (I’m glad he didn’t choose rats or spiders as I would be forever frozen at the thought of a teeming swarm of either. I barely recovered from the story of the Pied Piper as a child.)

But perhaps the most important aspect of these plagues to point out is that the plagues were explicitly devised to change the mind of Pharaoh and extract repentance. In this case, it took ten times.

How many times does God act to change me, to draw my attention to poor and selfish thinking, inappropriate behaviors, or simply, to sin? Am I equally stubborn?

In Pharaoh’s case, the letting go of the Israelites would alter Egypt’s way of life dramatically because slaves were cheap labor and there was plenty of it, in essence, the bedrock of that economy. He wasn’t just resisting God’s will, he was resisting change.

I just want to pay attention, that’s all. I don’t want to be a hard heart.

Plus, a hard heart can have collateral damage. In Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet, during the course of the two families bickering and fighting, it is Mercutio who is mortally wounded:

No, ’tis not so deep as a well, nor so wide as a
church-door; but ’tis enough,’twill serve: ask for
me to-morrow, and you shall find me a grave man. I
am peppered, I warrant, for this world. A plague o’
both your houses! ‘Zounds, a dog, a rat, a mouse, a
cat, to scratch a man to death! a braggart, a
rogue, a villain, that fights by the book of
arithmetic! Why the devil came you between us? I
was hurt under your arm.  [Mercutio, Act 3, Scene 1]

Such family quarrels continue in our modern world and who suffers? Stubbornness has no victor.

In Shakespeare’s tale, many more die, but in particular, both Romeo and Juliet lose their lives, choosing out of misplaced loyalty, somehow taught by their feuding families. In Pharaoh’s time, he lost his firstborn son, before he let go. But even that, was not the end of his stubborn, single-minded story.

God works in mysterious ways to bend the earth and its peoples to God’s will. For the best. And unfortunately, it appears we, as a human race, are feeling some of those plagues today. How many more tragedies and how many more deaths will we endure before we respond humanely to one another? Or will we continue to blame one another because of the color of our skin or history of our faiths or the geography of our land?

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Here’s a picture for you, hate as a knife; hate as a gun; hate as a club; hate as a poison dart. They are all tools that a person can use to unleash a violence on someone else and it does damage, sometimes permanent. Hate is potent. Who am I kidding? It’s always within my grasp.

I John 3:15
Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him.

Over the years, I have engaged many people about my faith. And, in particular, my desperate need for forgiveness, for my own sins as well as a willingness to forgive others. So often, their comeback to me is that they haven’t done anything so bad: they haven’t murdered anyone or stolen anything or taken lethal drugs. They speak as though there is such a thing as an “ordinary” life of niceness, their “good person” syndrome, a whitewash.

But I say they have murdered, at one time or another, with hate. And, unfortunately, in the paradoxical world of God, that hate might have appeared justified, the object being a mean, cruel, even evil-seeming person, or an adulterer, a child abuser, a wife beater, a liar, a betrayer. Do any of these descriptions make your blood boil?

That’s different, you say. They deserve to be hated; they broke the laws of humankind. They are “Cain: who slew Abel” [Genesis 4]. Instead of casting them out of the garden, you cast them out of your life. It’s a way to soften the feelings, to put blanks in the pistol, to dull the edge of hate.

There were years I hated my own mother for the emotional damages she brought into my life. There were times I hated my brother out of sheer jealousy for his abilities, for his “position” in our family, for his successes that perpetually outshone my own. There were intervals I hated my husbands (in certain seasons of our shared lives), for their disdain of me as a woman, for their disregard, for their isolations. There were girls I hated who were prettier than me, smarter than me, “in” while I was “out,” or acknowledged while I was invisible. There were lovers who bruised my heart and cast me aside. There were neighbors who crossed the line of decency. There were . . . there are . . . enemies of the state, terrorists, and many, many, unnamed villains.

Oh yes, plenty of people to hate. And yet, none of my hate effective in relieving my own soul, heart or mind of injury. What has been done to me, I cannot re-write, I cannot change my past with the weapons of hate, nor can I pay them forward. Hate perpetuates hate. It feeds upon itself.

Back to the paradox: there is a reason that Jesus taught us to love our enemies [Matthew 12:44]. I think we have mistakenly relegated this command to an ideal, something nice to work toward. But I have come to believe it’s a weapon in its own right, not just as powerful as hate, but more powerful. It’s a neutralizer, a transformer. If hate is a weapon, love is a bomb that changes the landscape completely.

It’s not a suggestion: it’s a guarantee.

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Blinding Darkness

I don’t hate anyone. I don’t think I hate anyone. It’s such a strong word, so bitter. It conjures up all kinds of negative feelings, dark looks, hostile language. But of course, I have said “I can’t stand her” or “I can barely tolerate being around him.” Am I any better? Have I split the “hate” hairs?

I John 2:11
But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them.

So, here’s what I know right now. There’s been enough negativity coming out of my mouth, right off the top of my heart, that I’m living in twilight… not darkness, but not light either.

And the twilight is casting shadows in my relationships.

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It’s pretty important, this credibility stuff. I mean, if a person blows his/her believability or reliability, it’s hard to get those things back. Reputation is in that category.

I Corinthians 15:14-15a
And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead.

In some cases, people don’t have credibility or reliability just by the nature of their job title, e.g. politician. And in some arenas, “Christian” carries about the same pall or dark cloud. If a Christian hurts someone or is caught in a grievous act, then all Christians can become suspect.

I remember how angry my mother was (even after 35 years) at the ministers who neglected to distribute food fairly in the displaced persons camps after World War II. She mistrusted all ministers. That’s extreme, but I think the point is still valid.

I also remember some years ago when I had only been working at a new job for only a few months. The “work room” was pretty tight and over 7 people and their workspaces were squished together into one room. It was a haven for gossiping and back biting. For a long time, I managed to stay out of it, but after a few months of exposure, I was digging in like the rest. One day, I passed one of these little luscious tidbits to another colleague and she said, “Oh, I’m so surprised to hear this from you, I thought you would never speak ill of anyone.” In that moment, I lost all credibility. I was devastated!

A man who lacks judgment derides his neighbor, but a man of understanding holds his tongue. [Proverbs 11:12]

This issue of gossip and judgment, without a doubt, my most besetting sins of all. I must desire to change. Clearly, I don’t hate this aspect of my behavior enough. God forgive me. Silence my tongue.

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I wouldn’t normally say I am persecuted on a regular basis: you know, things like domination, fanaticism, and intimidation. But, what if it’s as simple as someone who is “cruel in their attitude toward me” [Amplified]. In either case, I’m supposed to bless them. What does that look like?

Romans 12:14-16a
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. . . .

When I teach a Bible study, I am constantly asking the participants, “What does that look like?” I ask because most people who come to these studies have a pretty good handle on the scriptures, but they have lost the specificity of how the words apply (manifest) in their daily lives. It’s one thing to read about “blessing the persecutors” and another to figure out how to do that on a regular day.

For one thing (and for the sake of transparency), I’m still contending with the implications of the word, “bless.” Usually, I can get past these verses by including the “haters” (as my kids call them) in prayer: “Bless so and so, like the woman who gave me a dirty look, or the man who yelled at me over the phone, or the boss who challenged my ability, or the teen who blatantly lied to me. Oh yeah, bless them Lord. (The hidden message: You bless them God because I sure can’t/won’t.)

But I think that’s a dodge of the truth behind the words. To bless someone goes beyond a pat on the head or a passing verbal gratuity. Blessings begin in the mind and then need to manifest into some kind of action. To bless is a verb. Just a little look at a dictionary or thesaurus is quite revealing. Everything is included from “sanctify” to “protect from evil” or “confer well being upon someone.” So, yes, there is a speaking component to blessing someone. And when we are speaking this blessing, it is a request that God confer well-being, prosperity, health, and holiness (wholeness). Every time we say “Bless” it’s a prayer.

I believe there is a second component. The command for me to bless others is not just about me “praying” a blessing over someone but to do what I can to give that person the ability to receive those blessings. If I want to bless someone truly, then I am helping that person receive what God has to offer. I am participating in the process with God. I may be called to be the hands and feet of the blessing.

To only say, “Bless them” is an empty prayer if I am not offering my own commitment to that person’s transformation or change in circumstances.

On a personal level, if someone is treating me badly, cruelly, or even betraying me and accusing me wrongly, while God is telling me to bless that person, then what? Romans 12:20 says “But if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals upon his head.” My job is to do what is best for the person, no matter how they treat me. To actively bless someone is really just another word for loving them. I do my piece of it and the rest is up to God. If that person does not receive the blessings (mine or God’s) then the “burning coals” may indeed be brought into picture. But that’s not my job. My job is to bless/love.

Help me today, Lord, to “bless” and thereby extend love to everyone I meet today, but in particular, the persecutors. Oh, that feels overwhelming to say.

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