Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses. (Proverbs 10:12 ESV)
songwriter once sang, “What the world needs now is love, sweet love/It’s the only thing that there’s just too little of…” Oh, what truth there is in these lyrics, especially with all the hate that is being perpetrated throughout our world today! I John 4:8 (ESV) declares, “Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” We are about to celebrate the most romantic holiday of the year, Valentine’s Day, and statistics show that Americans are expected to spend $22 billion in 2021 for this special day. That is my birthday, so you know that I am already glowing with excitement. However, the sad part about observing this day of love, many of those who celebrate it to the hilt, are otherwise filled to the brim with hate for their fellow man. That is hypocrisy to one of the greatest degrees. Mrs. Coretta Scott King, wife of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., affirmed, “Hate is too great a burden to bear. It injures the hater more than it injures the hated.” Consequently, love is better than hate on any day!
Love can rarely be defined as one particular feeling or experience because we all experience it differently. The Oxford English Dictionary describes love as a feeling or disposition of deep affection or fondness for someone, typically arising from the recognition of attractive qualities. It also goes on to state that love is an emotional attachment that goes toward an object. Classical Greek writings are immersed with words that describe what love and different types of affection mean. On the other hand, this same source defines hate as to dislike greatly; to be extremely adverse. Further, hate is the complex counterpart of love. As you can see here, there is more to say about love, especially in a positive way, than it is to say about hate. Romans 12:9 (ESV) states, “Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.”
The kind of love that Paul describes in I Corinthians 13 is a love given only by God, and Jesus is the perfect example. There are 16 characteristics of love in this chapter: love infuses meaning into every aspect of life, love is patient, love is kind, love does not envy, love does not boast, love is not proud, love is not rude, love is not easily angered, love keeps no record of wrong, love rejoices with the truth, love protects, love trusts, love hopes, love always perseveres, love never fails, and love is the greatest.
Then, what are some characteristics of hate? Most authors who have written on hate agree that it is a powerful negative emotional phenomenon. It is highly likely that hate feelings are often accompanied by other negative emotions, maybe especially because hate is such an intense feeling. According to “Types of Hate,” hatred is often blind, making human beings prone to believe things that simply are not true. Sadly, too many of us fall victim to this reality, resulting in feelings of animosity and prejudice with little or nothing to back it up. This blind hatred often has to do with race, religion, gender, politics, or sexual orientation. As such, it has wreaked havoc on the world for centuries and will probably continue to do so for many more. Hate brings along emotions of anger, disgust, humiliation, fear, and the like. Two main causes of hate are fear and ignorance. Therefore, isn’t it better to love than to hate?
Allowing hate to consume one’s daily life is a sad state of affairs. How can someone say that he loves God, but hates his fellow man? Anyone who does this is seriously immature in his Christian belief and growth, if he is of the Christian faith at all. The extremist hate groups that continue to rise in our nation are only “cultivating” the divide that already exists. What if they were to channel that energy into love! However, some people do eventually “wake up and smell the coffee,” realizing that hate is an unnecessary burden, a learned behavior that is nothing more than a colossal waste of time and energy. Therefore, a man can grow in his beliefs and ways if he seeks God’s guidance. Let me share once again, a classic poem, “Thank God a Man can Grow,” that I heard United States Representative Jim Clyburn recite at the late Governor and United States Senator Fritz Hollings’ funeral:
“Thank God a man can grow!/ He is not bound With earthward gaze to creep along the ground;/ Though his beginning be but poor and low./ Thank God, a man can grow./ The fire upon his altars may burn dim,/ The torch he lighted may in darkness fall/ And nothing to rekindle it avails,/ Yet high beyond his dull horizon’s rim/ Arcturus and the Pleiades beckon him.”
Have a wonderfully blessed week, be thankful in all circumstances, and never leave home without Him!
(Anna Bright is a minister and educator in Walterboro. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)