What I Hate
Have you ever had a question strike you so hard that it stuck in your mind for weeks or even months? These questions can be so random, yet profoundly simple, that they just attach to your bones, forever altering how you think.
About a month ago, around a table with coffee in hand, one of the men in our morning Immerse Group asked me one of those striking questions. “Bob, what is one thing that pastors hate most about ministry?” This was a question I had heard before. However, it was so random and perfectly timed that it caught me completely off-guard. After gathering my thoughts and drying the coffee spilled on my shirt, I looked at him and said, “Well…for me, I hate it when sheep bite other sheep.” Now, I could go on and tell you how the people of God often hurt one another and how it breaks the heart of those who shepherd them (yes, it is true); however, what I learned doesn’t lie there. I was taken aback by the word “hate” itself and how it so easily flowed from my mouth.
You may disagree, but we live in a world that runs to hate and weaponizes it to both defend and offend. No matter the issue, it seems that hate is tied to every topic these days. If you want to investigate it yourself, pick any trending topic in our culture and investigate if “sides” exist and how they treat one another. When my friend asked me what I hated, he pointed out that we often direct our anger at things that displease us. But is hate good or bad? Well, the answer is a tricky thing to unpack. When we look at Scripture, we see that hatred for one another is condemned in the Old Testament, and that same stance is reaffirmed in the New Testament. However, we also see that God Himself does hate. Before you call or email me, please read Proverbs 6:16-19.
No matter the issue, it seems that hate is tied to every topic these days.
Did you read it? Okay, let’s jump into this. The passage in Proverbs shows us that the things God hates are “abominations to His Soul.” They are against everything He is. The Lord hates pride and selfish focus, lying, the shedding of innocent blood, those who scheme for evil self-centered outcomes, a heart eager to harm, liars, and those who cause division within their community. God’s hate is for wickedness and evil. These things are abominations to who He is, what He has created, and where He wants each of us to be. Hopefully, we can all agree that this type of hate is holy, one that fights against evil. However, I would bet that this is not the type of hate you and I experience when we say, “I hate _____.”
When my friend asked me what hate I experience as a pastor, the truth is that the things often causing hateful anger in me do not mirror God’s holy nature for acceptable hate. Yes, I hate the things He hates. But I also find myself hating things He does not. In essence, I find myself angered by things that are abominations to MY soul, rather than His—to my criteria, not His. When we look at His criteria for something worth hating, it only includes things that hurt His creation, you, me, and those around us.
Yes, I hate the things He hates. But I also find myself hating things He does not.
Let’s pick them apart. Pride is about bettering ourselves, not others. Lies tear down and hide the truth. Hurting the innocent destroys. Evil scheming is ungodly and self-focused. A disposition quick to hurt leads to uncontrolled rage. Lying, mentioned twice, shows an evil heart, and is capped off with division, an act perpetrated by Satan himself in the Garden of Eden. When you and I hate, the hate we often express is destructive. The things God hates are the “lights on our dashboard” that show us there is a real problem.
Jesus teaches us to turn our anger into sacrificial love, even for those we disdain (Matthew 5:43-48). When we choose to hate, we’d better be sure that it fits the criteria God deems acceptable. To make things easier for each of us, He has shown us that it is never okay to hate a person. Now, Proverbs 6:19 does show us that He hates villains that exude the evil traits shared above. We also know that, yes, He judges them justly. However, it is His authority, wisdom, and role to deem who is worthy of such wrath. It is not our right or place! Christian or not, we are not to hate His creation.
So, brothers and sisters, what do you hate? Is it evil and wickedness, or does a person or people come to mind? I have the same problem you do. We are equally marred by sin, yet those of us with Jesus in our lives are bound together by grace. Let’s make sure we hate evil things rather than His incredible creations. We can hate what God hates; but just remember that God hates wickedness, evil and villainy—He doesn’t hate you, me, or anyone else made in His image.