Enemies

Romans 12:18

If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.

“Am I not destroying my enemies when I make friends of them? ~Abraham Lincoln”

The Lincoln quote is one I posted a few days ago. FloatingSpeck had a comment or two on it; we had a conversation about it online.  Thank you, Speck, for inspiring this entry!  Everyone should go find her site and see the photos she posts as her blog.  Very nice shots!  https://myblueworld2016.wordpress.com/

Sometimes we have adversaries whom we just can’t get to. You try to get along with them, but they are adversarial, passive aggressive, mean, or just plain cuckoo for Co-Co Puffs.  What do you do?

Even harder is when someone close – perhaps family – commits some great offense that simply must be dealt with. If they don’t own up to their actions, if they refuse to make amends, what can you do?

First, you have to find a way past your anger and maybe even hatred. It won’t do you any good, so find a way past it.  It’s more easily said than done, for the greater the love, the greater the hurt!

Second, we need to do more than just stop hating. Matthew 5:24 – “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you…”

*sigh*

No, we aren’t told to just stop hating. We need to turn our hate back into love. Why?  I wrote a recent article on that very topic; the relationship between love and hate.  https://jeffreyhking.wordpress.com/2016/07/07/hate-and-love/

Emotions are for what we care about. You need to care to either love, hate or anything in between.  If you stop hating and leave it there, you simply aren’t caring anymore.  That isn’t right either.

There are people who have been in my life that I have cut off contact with – even family – due to the nature of betrayal, not just of me but in one case of their own children. I’ve only managed to stop hating.  Praying for them over the years has helped with letting go of my rage.  I don’t wish them ill.  I hope they find forgiveness and that I see them in heaven.  I want to see no one go to hell.

But I can’t say I love them. I’m not really doing it right yet.  Will I ever?  Good question.

I feel from reading other bible passages, that separation can be an acceptable solution. Paul wrote in more than one letter that unbelievers who are weakening the church from within should be excluded, but that it should be done in love, hoping that it will be a strong enough sanction they will repent.

2 Corinthians 6:14

“Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?”

This passage, in context, refers to sex and marriage, was written to the Corinthians, who, believing a little too much in forgiveness, figured they were free visit the prostitutes, both in the temples and the streets. The principle, however, applies to maintaining relationships or even friendships that tear you down.

Family members referenced above who betrayed their own children, well, my anger burned particularly hot. I later found a verse that told me why:

1 Timothy 5:8

“But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.”

Flying in the face of God’s Will for others and family especially, it seems to me we should draw a line somewhere to preserve our own lives and souls. However, we need to do it in self-defense and correction, not hate.

Titus 3:10

“A man that is a heretic, after the first and second admonition reject;…”

Also, love is not necessarily an emotion. It is a commitment too.  Perhaps that is the love the Bible refers to.  We can care enough to forgive and pray for them.  But, until they recognize their hurtfulness  and accept both God’s forgiveness and ours, they have made the choice to be an enemy, not us.  Whenever they do repent, we are charged to welcome them back, not just with open arms, but open hearts as well!

Hate and Love

Matthew 5:44

But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you,

John 3:20

For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.

I recently read two different blog entries from different sources. One of them asked readers to comment; he was looking for ideas on defining and dealing with it.

I taught communications at a small Catholic college for a year, and I started remembering some of the things from that class. Let’s start with the opening question regarding hate:

“What is the opposite of hate?”

You said “love,” of course. Sounds about right, but you’re wrong.  The opposite of hate is nothing.  Love and hate are the polar extremes on the sliding scale of “Caring.”  You don’t love or hate anything or anyone without caring about them in some fashion.

Divorce produces some of the bitterest hatred and animosity of any situation. Why?  Because they loved so much, cared so much at the start.  They still care through the divorce and maybe the rest of their lives.  It can last that long and be as cruel.

If someone hates you, they care. Maybe there was never affection involved, but you likely threatened SOMETHING they love and care for deeply.  It may be themselves, a strong, sincere belief, a choice they know is wrong but will maintain out of…something.  Spite?  Selfishness?  That’s what John 3:20 is about.

Mathew 5:44 says we should always care about people the right way, in love. There are those who care about us, but in the wrong way.  We should show them how to care about others in the right way.  Or maybe care about the right things in the first place.

Do you hate? You should figure out why.  You should figure out if you should care so much.  Then find a way to care the right way about the right things.

And that brings us back to…love. Sweet, sweet love.  Father to us; us to everyone else.

Hate

Let’s start with a representative selection of scripture on the subject:
Psalm 139:21
Do I not hate those who hate you, LORD, and abhor those who are in rebellion against you?

Proverbs 8:13
To fear the LORD is to hate evil; I hate pride and arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech.

Proverbs 13:5
The righteous hate what is false, but the wicked make themselves a stench and bring shame on themselves.

Amos 5:15
Hate evil, love good; maintain justice in the courts. Perhaps the LORD God Almighty will have mercy on the remnant of Joseph.

Luke 6:27
[ Love for Enemies ] “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you

1 John 2:9
Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness.

Ephesians 4:26
“In your anger do not sin” : Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry,

2 Timothy 4:14
Alexander the metalworker did me a great deal of harm. The Lord will repay him for what he has done.

Hate is a tough subject. It’s an attractive option at times. Short term, it feels kind of good. Long term, it starts hurting more than helping. Ultimately, it can be self-destructive. But then, it depends on what you mean by hate and the object of it.

In all of the passages above, except the Psalm by David, hate is directed toward bad behavior, not people. David talks about hating those who hate the Lord and abhors those who rebel against Him. While not explicitly stated, it makes sense that anyone who does not hate the Lord is OK in David’s book. And, by extension, that would include people who used to hate the Lord. Given the extensive writings dealing with David, his character reflects someone who would welcome a reformed person back into the fold.

Hating people and their actions are hard to separate. So here’s a test: Do you wish them harm? When something bad happens to them, are you happy about it? When you recall that God says, “Vengeance is mine” are you giddy with anticipation? If you answer yes to any, you hate the person.

That brings us back to 1 John 2:9 – “Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness.” No love in your heart. Oops. Took that hate thing just a bit too far. Went over to the Dark Side. Literally, according to John.

I learned the difference by God’s grace at work. There was a guy who I didn’t much like. He was arrogant, and it didn’t help that he was extremely intelligent and always right…as far as any of us could tell. I started avoiding him, including taking the long way around the office to my cubicle just to avoid going by his door.

Then came Black Monday. Our division was gutted and rolled into another. This guy was on the chopping block along with several others. There was a certain amount of payback involved. My guy was allowed to have an office for a short while to apply for other positions within the corporation, but he’d been blacklisted. It was an exercise in futility. Thing was, I felt bad for the guy. Really. That spark of sympathy, which I believe God planted in me, taught me about hate and compassion.

I hated his actions and avoided him. Even though he could be mean, and I often remembered God claiming vengeance is His, I decided that day that I’d never pray for it on someone. Just leave it to Him and recognize that it could truly come.

Along the same lines, payback on earth is one thing. But how many times have you heard someone say – or said yourself – “That person should rot in hell”? Let’s say we’re talking about a pedophile or mass murderer. There have been some mass shootings in the USA where you just can think of no other response. Just remember that God loves all of His children.

We also know many evil things are done by people who are severely mentally ill. And no, I’m not excusing their behavior. I’m just saying that hell is the ultimate punishment, beyond any horror we can imagine, and reserved for God’s judgment.

If you want a glimpse, try the book 23 MINUTES IN HELL. You might argue whether the author was actually in hell, but his description is biblical (https://www.soulchoiceministries.com/). I certainly don’t want it for me, and God knows I sin. It’s not for me to say who should go. I certainly cannot feel good about anyone going to hell. I deserve to go too.

Oh, yeah. I almost forgot. Luke 6:27 – “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you.” I’ll be honest, I’m not really good at this. I have prayed for enemies, but having gotten dinged up enough by them, I finally just avoid them. I still wish no harm, I still pray for them. If I have to deal with them, I’ll be civil. OK, cold but civil. Probably wrong. OK…wrong. I have anger. If they change, that’ll go away.

And therein lies the problem. Scripture interprets scripture, so you take all of these writings on a subject and try to interpret the issue as best you can. Even after all this, I still have to fear how much I get wrong. How much I sin – which I’m sure is a lot.
Just thank God we have the solution: Jesus. That’s where all scripture ultimately points. So when I get it wrong or am too weak to do what I know is right, Jesus died for me and takes responsibility for my actions.

Wow!

What do you think? I and other readers want to know!