S212P1 – Bad fruit: hatred

Gal. 5:19-23

Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.

For every good fruit of the Spirit there is the spiritual antithesis which works for evil.  We know that the opposite of love is hatred.  Perhaps the picture of this bad fruit which comes to mind looks something like the willful work to oppose or cause evil to fall on someone.  We might envision the hateful person as one who deliberately says or does things to express that hatred toward another.  Some of us have been the object of such hateful acts and words.  While obvious outward expressions of a lack of love are clear, hatred can take a much more subtle form.  After all, if we are to heed the words of Jesus Christ himself, then we see that hatred starts and takes root not in the hands or in the tongue but in the heart.

Anyone who has suffered through the silent treatment or who has been disowned by a loved one knows that hatred can be quiet and without any apparent force.  This does not mean that removing people from one’s life is always an act of hatred because that will be necessary at times.  The point is that we need to check our motivation in these instances.  Being the opposite of love, hatred works against an individual whether overtly or covertly.  One can inflict the same pain with no words as one can inflict with the harshest of rebukes.  Perhaps a good measuring rod to determine whether our behavior is rooted in hatred is to compare it to what we do out of love.  The scriptures define love and its character for us, so the distinction should be clear.

Love is patient, kind, and selfless.  Love considers the object and his or her best interest.  Where love gives, hatred takes.  Where love lifts up, hatred tears down.  Where love brings life, hatred breeds death.  Let us not fool ourselves into thinking that we have a right or justification to treat others with hatred.  After all, our Lord tells us to love even our enemies and to pray for our persecutors. [Mt. 5:44]  That means that we work for the best interests of even those who want nothing less than to destroy us and our testimony.  That is the kind of love we are called to have.  Father, show us any place where we have allowed hatred to reign in us so that we can rid ourselves of that bad fruit and love better.