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Hate is an intense feeling of hostility, aversion, and dislike. Humans hate other humans who threaten them in some way. The son who is beaten by his father grows to hate the man who is able to physically dominate and hurt him. The underdog at school hates the bullies whose teasing inflicts intense emotional anguish. We don’t arrive instantly at hate—we grow into it as our own internal wounds and fears remain unresolved. Harboring hate is a way that we try to compensate for a perceived sense of powerlessness. When we feel trapped in a situation in which we are outnumbered or outmatched by relentless opponents, our lack of options causes panic. Prolonged panic develops into paranoia and soon we are seeing threats where they don’t exist. The black man who is used to being treated like dirt because of the color of his skin starts seeing hostile looks on every white face that passes by. The woman who grew up trapped in a home with domineering men reads condescending attitudes into the innocent mannerisms of every man she meets.
Hate warps us. It blinds us to the good in others and causes us to see only the bad. Most ironic of all, focusing on the object of our hate turns us into that very thing. The black man who is bitter over being treated as inferior by white men, ends up practicing the same mindset that has caused him so much pain. As he complains about being judged by the color of his skin, he judges others by that same irrelevant detail, and ends up being just as much of a bigot as those he feels so justified in hating. The woman who hates being looked down on for her gender ends up dishing this same attitude out. All men become pompous jerks in her eyes, and she goes around spewing the same condescending attitude that she is constantly condemning.
If a man refuses to acknowledge that a wound on his leg has become infected, the infection will only spread and eventually develop into life-stopping health problems. In the same way, when we refuse to acknowledge that hate has taken root in our hearts, that root continues to grow and branch out until it is affecting every area of our lives. Clinging to hate renders us incapable of engaging in healthy relationships. We drive our allies away from us with our acrid attitude, and we start regressing in all areas of personal development. We become immature, petty, and self-absorbed—expecting the whole world to revolve around us. We never tire of talking about how we’ve been wronged and wounded, as if we are the only ones on the planet to be acquainted with the concept of suffering. We start spiritually stagnating as we consistently ignore the convictions of the Holy Spirit. Hate leads us into spiritual rebellion, as we refuse to allow God to balance our perspective and remind us of truths that would make it hard to keep justifying our infantile behavior. We reach the point where we no longer want to be healed, for it is the constant festering of internal wounds which keeps us thirsting for revenge. Seeing our enemies in torment has become the only thing we’re living for, and yet we’ve set our sights on something that God will never give us.
It is God who judges the human race. It is God who condemns, it is God who pardons. God judges alone. There is no human jury in His heavenly court, nor does He allow any human to testify against another. We are judged not by what we did to others, but by how our souls responded to God. It is God who controls the experience and empowerment of every soul on earth. The son who is beaten regularly by his father condemns his father as a monster who deserves to burn in Hell. But God sees a man who is crippled by his own internal pain, and is lacking the resources he needs to control his raging flesh. Society condemns the child molester, the murderer, and the torturer without asking or caring about how these people became so warped in the first place. Humans are incapable of judging fairly and they are misers of mercy. We regularly exaggerate what has been done to us while we minimize and justify what we have done to others. It is a great relief to know that God will never abandon us into the hands of our fellow humans. In eternity, it is God alone who will judge. There won’t be any getting back at those who hurt you on earth. There will only be you standing before God, answering for the fact that you spent so many precious years ignoring Him while you wallowed in your self-righteous snit.
We don’t want to get caught in the trap of hate. It isn’t worth it. When we rebel against God in our souls by refusing to respond to His convictions, our rebellion only comes back on our own heads. God says that EVERY soul is morally wretched, and that we ALL deserve to burn in Hell for our refusal to honor Him. God commands us to love others as we love ourselves. Are we doing that when we are spewing condemnation and hate towards some particular individual or group? Not hardly. We hate being judged, shunned, and condemned by others, yet this is exactly what we are doing to others when we are embracing a mindset of hate. We are failing God’s command to us, and for that we deserve eternal damnation. This is how God judges: it’s all about you and Him. Other people don’t even enter into it. YOU are a miserable failure when it comes to honoring God with your adherence to His moral code. YOU are the only one God is going to be talking about when He delivers His judgment of you in eternity. If you spend your life obsessing over how others have hurt you, you are going to arrive in eternity entirely unprepared. You are a mere dot of a human, and no dot is going to tell God Almighty who He can and can’t be gracious towards. If He wants to heap love, forgiveness, and mercy on the heads of your enemies, HE GETS TO. If He wants to set them up in some sweet heavenly paradise and totally dismiss all the ways they made your life miserable on earth, HE GETS TO. Heaven is God’s domain, and He’ll run it however He wants to. God doesn’t take orders from us.
“God help me get back into alignment with You,” is the prayer we need to pray when we find ourselves obsessing over revenge. “Help me to heal from the past and see myself and others through Your eyes.” When we choose to be receptive towards the Holy Spirit, He reveals options that we didn’t see before. With God, there are ALWAYS options. We might be physically trapped in some cell or physically outmatched by an abuser, but the physical realm is not where these battles are won and lost. Freedom, healing, and protection from internal injury in the future are all things which come from within us. It is through the whole-hearted pursuit of God that we become immune to being devastated by others. Getting circumstantial revenge accomplishes nothing. Wounding others doesn’t alleviate our own anguish, it only warps us further.
God is the only One who can free us from the trap of hate. We must recognize this and reach for Him like a drowning man reaching for the lifesaving raft that has been tossed within his reach. If we keep refusing to reach for the help God has put within our grasp, how can we really expect Him to keep sympathizing with us? If a drowning man keeps pushing all flotation devices away from him, at some point he will sink beneath the waves and that will be the end of him. The day comes when God lets us drown in the cesspool of our own hate when that’s what we’re so bent on doing. We will then go on to reap the consequences of our foolishness in eternity, where we will have no one to blame but ourselves. Yes, you are wounded. EVERYONE is wounded. EVERYONE suffers in this world. Maybe you really have suffered more than most, but so what? God isn’t comparing you to anyone else. He is judging you solely by how you responded to the help He has offered you. You’re either cooperating with Him or you are being a rebellious little brat. God disciplines brats.
The Eternal Cost of Defying God: A Warning for Christians