Love and Hate



            I'm pretty sure that at one time or another most of us have noticed that we live in a world of contrasts.  There is high and low; dark and light; hot and cold; on and off; in and out; up and down; black and white; right and left; east and west.  This coming Wednesday is of course, Valentine's Day, the day we have set aside as a culture to celebrate love.  This morning, we're going to look at another contrast that we find in life that is highlighted for us this time of year.  That contrast is love and hate.

            Of course, we all know that hate is generally a very bad thing.  How many times do parents tell their kids that they're not supposed to hate.  We can define hate as "intense hostility and aversion usually deriving from fear, anger or sense of injury."  It is also defined as "extreme dislike."  It is true that we shouldn't be harboring hate in our hearts towards other people.  To hate someone violates God's law and goes against His will for our lives. 

            Even though it is generally true that we are not to hate, there are actually areas in life where we do need to hate.  For instance, we need to hate evil.  Ps. 97:10.  From a human perspective, evil is something that is harmful and non-productive.  But from God's perspective, evil is anything that is opposed to Him and His purposes. 

            There are two types of evil in the world today.  One we could refer to as natural evil.  This would include destructive forces in nature, things like earthquakes, tornadoes, tidal waves, cancer and other sicknesses and diseases.  There's nothing immoral or sinful about this type of evil and we have no basis for hating an earthquake or a tornado.  But we do and we should, hate the outcome of what happens in the wake of any natural disaster; we should hate what cancer does to a person's health.  I don't know about you but I certainly hate hearing of children who suffer from cancer or some other disease or illness.  It just doesn't seem fair.    

            But then there is also moral evil.  This type of evil has its source in the choice and actions of humans.  Moral evil includes anything that is morally reprehensible.  It ultimately comes from Satan himself and is the result of sin in the world.  This is the type of evil that we need to hate. 

            The moral evil that we are to hate includes any sort of abuse.  Spousal abuse; child abuse; bullying; using or taking advantage of someone for personal gain are all things we should detest.  We should also hate any and all forms of sexual abuse and assault, especially pedophilia.  To hear about and understand the things that are done to children by wicked, sinful, evil adults should make our blood boil with anger and hatred.

            We should hate abortion because taking the life of an unborn baby is murder for nothing other than selfish reasons.  We should hate human trafficking.  What's interesting about that is that today is, as all good Kansas City Chiefs fans know Super Bowl Sunday.  The Super Bowl is the day when there is more human trafficking than any other day of the year.  We should hate any and all sinful sexual practices, human sacrifice and the worshiping of any god other than the one true God.  All of those things are morally evil and are areas of life that we need to hate.   

            We also need to hate our families.  Luke 14:25-27.  This is one of those passages that doesn't seem to make much sense at first.  Hate our families?  We're supposed to have intense hostility and aversion to our parents and siblings?  That doesn't seem to be very Christlike or honoring to God.

            It's not.  That's not what Jesus is getting at in these verses.  We obviously have a natural affection for our own family and it is right and good for us to love them.  The Bible commands children to honor their parents and parents to love their children; husbands to love their wives and wives to love their husbands.

            What Jesus is talking about here has to do with preference.  Anyone who comes to Jesus for salvation must prefer God over his family.  We need to love God more and love our families less.  All of the other loves in our lives must be subordinate to loving God with one's heart, mind and strength. 

            One way that this is manifest is those times when we need to choose what God wants over what our family desires.  When God saved me my family was mostly non-Christians.  My sister was saved around the same time I was and eventually my mom came to know the Lord.  I was in college at the time, so there wasn't a situation of my Christianity being brought into the house on a daily and regular basis causing problems.  So there wasn't a lot of direct conflict with my family over my new found faith.

            I graduated from college and started working at a TV station in Kearney, NE.  After a couple of years, God led us to get involved in full-time campus ministry work.  About the only real conflict or problems I remember having with my family as a Christian came at that point.  My mom especially wasn't real happy with my change in professions.  She thought that I was wasting my college degree and the work and money that went into that.  But no matter what she thought or what she wanted, I had to choose God over family and in that way, hate my family.  Hate your family in terms of loving God more.

            That same Scripture passage gives us another area where we need to hate.  We also need to hate our own lives.  Luke 14:26.  What Christ means by this is that a call to salvation is a call to self-denial.  Instead of seeking to be ruler of our own lives, as Christians we seek to submit ourselves as slaves to Jesus as Lord, King and Master.  Jesus calls us to complete and total self-abandonment.  You are not the one calling the shots in your life.  If He is Lord, like we emphasized last week, our only response can be yes when He calls us to something.  No, Lord, is a contradiction.  We can only say yes to Him as the Spirit leads us to die to self.

            We should hate our own lives so much that we would be willing to die if necessary if that is God's will for us.  God doesn't call everyone to be a martyr, but we all need to be willing to make that sacrifice if that's what He wants.  The heavenly treasure of our relationship with God is so valuable that it is worth death if that is the cost we must pay. 

            There have been times when I had to hate my life.  I thought after college I was going to stay in TV news, but God wanted us to work with college students.  We thought that was going to be what we did for the rest of our lives, but then God led us to the pastorate.  At the time, we didn't even want to do that.  When we first came here, we never imagined that we would still be here 22 years later yet here we still are.  We could only obey and follow where God was leading and at times to do that we had to hate our own lives.

            The last topic we're going to touch on this morning that we need to hate is sin.  Rom. 7:15.  Before he was saved, Paul thought himself as blameless before God's law.  But when Christ came into his life, he realized that he fell far short of God's perfect standards for his life.  When he saw the true holiness, goodness and glory of God's law he was grieved by his sin because he knew he couldn't keep it perfectly. 

            Not only could he not keep the law, Paul also found himself doing things that he did not approve of and did not want to do.  It wasn't that he was unable to do a particular good thing, he did lots of very good things in his life.  It was that when he saw the fullness of God's law, he was not able to measure up completely.  He recognized his own sin and how wicked and depraved his heart really was.  

            In this passage in Romans, Paul was expressing the inner turmoil He found in his heart.  He severely desired to fulfill the spirit as well as the letter of the law.  But he also realized that he was unable to live up to the Lord's perfect standards because of the sin in his life.  He hated his sin and he hated living that way. 

            We need to hate the sin in our lives.  If you are never convicted of sin, you're probably not saved.  If you are convicted of it but don't care, you're not walking closely with the Lord.  We need to not only be aware of how we sin against God, but we need to be bothered by it; we need to hate that sin and take steps to repent of it.  If we don't hate it, we'll never try to repent and that will either keep us out of heaven altogether, or ruin our communion and fellowship with the Lord.  Hate your sin.

            As we stated earlier, we live a life of contrasts.  The contrast to hate that we just looked at is love.  Webster's defines love as "strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties."  For us as believers, love goes way beyond how the dictionary defines it.  The kind of love that God wants us to exhibit is "unselfish, loyal and benevolent concern for the well-being of another." 

            If we're going to love like God wants we need to love one another.  John 13:34.  The kind of love we need to show to others is the same sacrificial, unconditional love that God shows to us.  When we love others, we put them first.  We put their interests and their well-being before our own.  We serve and minister to them when they are in need.  It even means that we should be kind and nice and polite.  To love that way fulfills God's law and accomplishes His will. 

            Another aspect of God's love that we need to manifest in our lives involves forgiveness.  First of all, we need to be willing to apologize and ask forgiveness to those whom we have offended.  Humbly seeking forgiveness is crucial to a healthy church and crucial to preserving the unity of the body. 

            Secondly, we also need to be willing to grant forgiveness.  If someone comes to you and asks for forgiveness, there is no biblical or spiritual reason for you to not forgive them.  We even need to forgive others if they don't ask us to forgive them.  Remember, forgiveness is a commitment and a decision.  We commit ourselves to forgiving whoever has hurt or harmed us whether we feel like it or whether they ask us to or not.  God has forgiven us of far more than anyone will ever do to us and if we're truly His children, we will forgive.  So die to self and seek to love others.  Be humble enough to ask for forgiveness and gracious enough to grant it. 

            In addition to that, we show love towards one another by refusing to gossip, gripe or complain about people.  Prayer is an aspect of love.  If we truly love we will witness to those who are lost.  Treating people with dignity and respect, no matter who they are and no matter what they do is a way of showing love.  We should never condone or accept sin, but we can still love people where they are and let Jesus do the changing.  We need to treat everyone the way Jesus would and that includes the rich businessman or the poor manual laborer.  Because God's love has transformed our hearts, we can love one another.           

            We also need to love what is good.  Amos 5:15.  It might be hard to love other people, especially if we don't like them or if we don't get along with them very well; we shouldn't love things or people who are evil.  But it's actually easy for us to love what is good. 

            What is good?  It is good for us to be helpful to others; it's good to serve people when there are needs in their lives.  It's good for us to enjoy family and friends.  Spending time with our loved ones is one of the great blessings of life that God has bestowed upon us and it's OK for us to love that time.  It is good for us to have fun in life.  Laugh, play, do things that are fun and that you enjoy.  Included in that may be taking a walk in the park; enjoying a beautiful sunrise; laughing at a bad dad joke.  Here's one:  Today a woman knocked on my door and asked for a small donation towards the local swimming pool.  I said sure and gave her a glass of water.  Love the fun things of life.

            Of course, there are also all of the great spiritual blessings in our lives that are good and that we need to love.  We should love reading our Bibles and praying every day.  We should love fellowshipping with other believers and worshiping together.  We need to love these aspects of our lives that God has richly blessed us with.

            Lastly, and most importantly, we need to love God.  Deut. 6:5.  The most important and impactful love that we can and should express is love for our Heavenly Father.  He loves us and because of that, we need to love Him back.  We do that primarily through our obedience to Him.  If we say we love Him, but don't obey, we are either not saved or we're liars.  We also love God by forgiving others when necessary; by worshiping Him; through the spiritual disciplines we just outlined and that we always talk about.

            We are not to hate other people, but there are things in life that we should hate.  We should hate evil, our families, our own lives and sin.  But the most important thing we can do in life is to love.  God wants us to love one another, to love what is good, and most of all, to love Him. 

            As our singer and musician come now, we invite you to start hating and loving the way God wants and expects us to.  If there are any decisions or professions that need to be publicly made this morning, we invite you to come up here and talk to me about it as we stand and sing.




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