You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.
Hatred is the antithesis of love. It is like black and white, good and evil, and right and wrong. Where love seeks the best for others in all regards, hatred seeks the worst. At its best, hatred appears as ambivalence toward the well-being of another. At its worst, hatred works to purposely bring ill-will and cause damage. Considering that we are born into a spiritual state in which hatred seeks to destroy us through the works of the enemy, the one whose temptation led to the fall, it is understandable how this stands in the way of our faith.
When a person decides whether to love or hate another, it becomes a measurement of merit. Hating one who hates you seems completely fair in this world. After all, what human sense does it make to love one who wants nothing good for you? It is the idea that loving one who hates you is nothing but waste. But when we consider that God loved us even when we hated him and were his enemies, we must re-evaluate this flawed reasoning. Today’s scripture tells us that loving those who hate us shows that we are indeed God’s children. It is not only evidence but permission. It is by exhibiting this kind of Godly love that we are allowed to call God our Father in heaven. Loving in this way is impossible in human effort but possible when we allow God’s Holy Spirit to love through us. If we yield to the Spirit, we will prosper. If we quench the Spirit’s work, we will fall.
Hatred is a stumbling block to our faith because it keeps God’s Holy Spirit from working in us. Where his Spirit desires to manifest love, our sinful nature desires to manifest hatred. We must decide which of these two we will permit to work in us, and that decision greatly impacts our faith. If God commands us to love all, it is because He himself loves all, and He has the power to give us what we need to walk it out. Father, grow in us the love You have for those You made in your image, especially for those who are enemies of ours and enemies of yours, that we would usher in the restoration of relationships to us and to You.