Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man's sake. Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven: for in the like manner did their fathers unto the prophets. -Luke 6:22, 23 (KJV)
Have you ever noticed how the term “hate” is tossed around almost as much as the word “love?” People will say they hate certain foods, various programs on TV, or a particular sports team. Comedian Jerry Seinfeld pointed out how when it comes to sports it must be the uniforms we actually hate; “Loyalty to any one sports team is pretty hard to justify. Because the players are always changing, the team can move to another city, you’re actually rooting for the clothes when you get right down to it. You know what I mean, you are standing and cheering and yelling for your clothes to beat the clothes from another city. Fans will be so in love with a player but if he goes to another team, they boo him. This is the same human being in a different shirt, they hate him now. Boo! Different shirt! Boo!” (Jerry Seinfeld, The Label Maker Episode.)
Even though Mr. Seinfeld can make the idea of hatred for another human being sound funny we know hatred is no laughing matter. Knowing someone hates us is a terrible feeling. If you are the kind of person (as I am) who wants everyone to like you this is particularly distressing. Jesus pointedly reminded us of this hard truth; not everyone will love us. In fact, some will actually hate us, and their hatred will demonstrate itself in their attitudes toward our faith. Followers of Christ are called to be ever seeking to have His love working in our hearts at all times. We then desire for those around us to also experience the love of Christ. However, we know this will not always happen. In this troubled world there will be those who resent our efforts to share the gospel, and they will hate us for it just as Jesus said.
Jesus has told us what our attitude is to be when we are hated for the cause of sharing the gospel; “Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy.” The Lord never promised such a perspective would be easy; He simply instructed us to take on this attitude. The love of Jesus and hateful attitudes cannot co-exist in our hearts. To try and have Christ’s love reigning within us, yet also try to harbor hatred is as unnatural for Jesus’ followers as mixing oil and water. The love of Christ drives hatred from our hearts and replaces it with love, peace, and joy.
Are you harboring hatred in your heart today? Allow the love of Jesus to drive those destructive feelings from you. Peace, joy, personal growth, and blessings will follow.