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Hatred has a purpose

Practice / Emotional Discipline
Hatred seems inconsistent with a God who loves mankind immensely. Yet it is precisely because God loves us so much that He hates the evil attitudes and behaviours that keep us away from Him. Made in God’s image, we too have the propensity to hate. Hatred is a powerful “murder weapon” we are called to use correctly. If we use it to hate people, we become blind murderers in God’s eyes. If we turn it towards what God detests too, hate can kill all sin and strife.

(See Chinese versions: 简体中文憎恨有它的使命 繁體中文 > 憎恨有它的使命)


1 John 3:14-15 ESV  We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. 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.

Hatred is not inborn. It is an attitude that is learnt socially. We either learn it culturally, as in the case of some extremists or hate groups, or relationally, as a result of experiencing injustice, abandonment and rejection – and feeling helpless to do anything about it. As fallen human beings, we tend to hate the things or people that we don’t understand, have been hurt by, are afraid of, and can’t control.

Hating people ruins our salvation

Every person, whether good or evil, has been personally created by God in His image and for His purpose. When we hate people, we are, in essence, scorning God’s creation.

Proverbs 16:4-5 ESV  The LORD has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble. Everyone who is arrogant in heart is an abomination to the LORD; be assured, he will not go unpunished.

James 3:8-9 ESV  but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it, we curse people who are made in the likeness of God.

As followers of Jesus Christ, we are reminded not to quarrel with or judge others but to be kind to everyone, and be able to be patient with and reason with difficult people, even those who have been held captive by Satan to do whatever he wants.

2 Timothy 2:24-26 ESV  And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.

Leviticus 19:17 ESV  “You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason frankly with your neighbor, lest you incur sin because of him.

Hate, on the other hand, builds up walls of self-righteousness that robs us of the ability to see things objectively. Most detrimentally, our hatred of people plays straight into Satan’s hand. Figuratively speaking, it is as if we walk away from Jesus, who is humble, compassionate, forgiving, and full of grace, and go over to Satan to pick up some of his “flaming darts” and start shooting them at other people. Such hatred destroys our soul.

Ephesians 6:16 ESV  In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one;

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

The Bible states in 1 John 3:15 that “Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.” We will always reap the consequences of our bitter judgements, curses, jealousies, comparisons, and grudges – at the highest cost to ourselves, which is our eternity in heaven.

When we turn our capacity for hatred towards people, instead of towards sin or Satan, we misuse our gift to the great delight of the devil.

Proverbs 26:24,26 ESV  Whoever hates disguises himself with his lips and harbours deceit in his heart; though his hatred be covered with deception, his wickedness will be exposed in the assembly.

Hate is permissible for some things

Here are some things that God hates. We should certainly hate them too.

  • Division and disunity | Proverbs 6:16-19 ESV  There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans,  feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.
  • Double standards | Proverbs 20:23 NIV The LORD detests differing weights, and dishonest scales do not please him.
  • Divorce* | Malachi 2:16 NLT  “For I hate divorce!” says the Lord, the God of Israel. “To divorce your wife is to overwhelm her with cruelty,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. “So guard your heart; do not be unfaithful to your wife.”
  • Idol worship | Deuteronomy 16:21-22 ESV  “You shall not plant any tree as an Asherah beside the altar of the Lord your God that you shall make. And you shall not set up a pillar, which the Lord your God hates.
  • Greed and theft | Isaiah 61:8 ESV  For I the Lord love justice; I hate robbery and wrong; I will faithfully give them their recompense, and I will make an everlasting covenant with them.
  • Lies | Zechariah 8:17 NLT  Don’t scheme against each other. Stop your love of telling lies that you swear are the truth. I hate all these things, says the Lord.”
  • Pride Proverbs 6:16-19 ESV  There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans,  feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.
  • Religiosity | Amos 5:21-24 ESV  “I hate, I despise your feasts, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies. Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them; and the peace offerings of your fattened animals, I will not look upon them. Take away from me the noise of your songs; to the melody of your harps I will not listen. But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.
  • Violence | Psalm 11:5 ESV  The LORD tests the righteous, but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence.
  • Worship of moons and stars | Isaiah 1:14 ESV  Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hates; they have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them.

* God allows for divorce in the case of adultery (Matthew 5:32)

Using hatred wisely

As followers of Jesus, we are called to love people. We may not like their evil ways and we certainly do not want to condone wickedness. God’s grace enables us to say, “In spite of what you have done, I have made the decision to love the person that God created in you, and hate the way this world has corrupted you into becoming. I choose to see you through God’s love for you.” 

Romans 12:9 ESV  Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.

This is especially important for us to learn to do because Jesus warned us that those who choose to faithfully follow Him will be hated by this world. Choosing to love and hate according to God’s terms only invites ridicule and persecution. As believers, we can rejoice in such adversities because they are perfect opportunities to demonstrate the ways of Jesus. By doing so, we overcome Satan’s schemes and make his flaming darts utterly ineffective. God’s love is able to make up for all offences!

John 15:18-19 ESV  “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.

Matthew 5:10 ESV “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 

Matthew 5:43-48 ESV  “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 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. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Proverbs 10:12 ESV  Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses.

Turning away from hatred of people

If we have hatred in our hearts for any person, let us resolve to put it away for good before it costs us our eternal lives.

1. Cry out to God and talk to Him about the offences we feel

It may sometimes feel awkward to rail, vent, and complain to God about what other people have done to us. Thankfully, King David showed us many good examples of how he did precisely that with God in the book of Psalms. God did not reject David. In fact, God called David a man after His own heart. We too can be authentic about the confusion, frustration, indignation and even fury at what people do. If we dislike God’s will and plan, we can even tell Him so. He already knows everything that goes on in our hearts and He is able to take it all on. In fact, this is something He asks us to do. We are to verbalise our inner anxieties and cast them all on Him.

Psalm 56:1-2,5-7 NLT  O God, have mercy on me, for people are hounding me. My foes attack me all day long. I am constantly hounded by those who slander me, and many are boldly attacking me. They are always twisting what I say; they spend their days plotting to harm me. They come together to spy on me— watching my every step, eager to kill me. Don’t let them get away with their wickedness; in your anger, O God, bring them down.

2. Confess all our painful feelings

God cherishes our hearts and how we feel. He lovingly notes every tear we cry and records the offences that people commit against us. There will be times, however, that He cannot cut short our suffering because there is a bigger plan in place, but He does promise to bring justice and avenge us at the end – but we must persevere, endure. and trust Him.

Let us go to our loving Father in heaven and tell Him all the emotions we feel in the meantime – anger, hurt, disappointment, abandonment, betrayal, feeling lost etc. It is unwise to hold on to such toxic feelings. Instead, we can be comforted by the fact that we can cry out to God with many tears as David did, who was exhausted from crying and whose eyes were swollen from weeping from all the persecution he endured.

Psalm 56:8 NLT  You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.

Psalm 69:3-4,19-20 NLT  I am exhausted from crying for help; my throat is parched. My eyes are swollen with weeping, waiting for my God to help me. Those who hate me without cause outnumber the hairs on my head. Many enemies try to destroy me with lies, demanding that I give back what I didn’t steal.  You know of my shame, scorn, and disgrace. You see all that my enemies are doing. Their insults have broken my heart, and I am in despair. If only one person would show some pity; if only one would turn and comfort me.

Also, see The importance of emotional healing

3. Choose to do the right thing with God as our Witness

At some point, we need to decide to stop hating other people and stop allowing Satan to destroy us. Hatred can feel empowering for a short while, but it will eventually destroy our heart, mind, soul and body. When we hate others, we are in reality, allowing their actions to dictate our responses. When we love our enemies and pray for them instead, we no longer bow down to their behaviour or remain enslaved to our bitter emotions. As we humble ourselves to obey God’s will, He promises to lift us up at the proper time.

Romans 12:14-21 ESV Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

1 Peter 5:6 ESV  Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, 

Also, see Beware active or passive retaliation

4. Repent of our hatred and curses

Hatred gives Satan permission to set up several demonic strongholds in our lives; anxiety, bitterness, fear, sickness and death, for example. In order to revoke the permission we gave the devil to torment us with such things, we need to repent before God in Jesus’ name for all the hatred in our hearts, including all curses, slander, judgements, and condemnation that we have spoken over other people.

Matthew 5:22 NLT But I say, if you are even angry with someone, you are subject to judgment! If you call someone an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the court. And if you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell.

Romans 12:14 ESV  Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.

5. Forgive our offenders

Once we have cleared our record of guilt with God, we also need to forgive our offenders for the evil that they have done. Not only will this ensure that God will forgive us for our hatred, but we can also begin to recover emotionally as God accepts us back as His children and fills us with His Spirit. Forgiveness is the most powerful healing that we can bring to our own hearts, souls, and bodies. (Some doctors now use forgiveness as a therapy for cancer patients.)

Matthew 6:14-15 ESV  For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

6. Seek counselling and mentoring

Overcoming the effects of the evil and injustice that we have suffered from other people is often a journey rather than a destination. We all need biblical counsel and discipleship to help us renew our minds as we learn how to walk in the Lord’s strength and to draw healthy boundaries. The Bible has many important teachings on this subject.

Also, see Avoiding infections from toxic people 

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