We live in a world brimming with rude manners, selfishness and poor intentions. At some point, we’ve all been let down, manipulated, bullied or criticized. And when we are backstabbed, heart-broken or betrayed, it’s empowering to hate the people who have hurt us. Often, our first reaction is to strike back or feel bitter. Maybe you’ve even wished someone was dead.
1 John 4:20-21 says, “Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.”
John, one of Jesus’s best friends, makes it clear that you can’t love God and hate God’s people. And guess what? All people are God’s people. If we love God, we have to love others. So how do we love those we hate?
4 Ways to Love Someone You Hate:
1. Put the situation in context.
“Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly” (John 7:24).
Jesus was often judged during His ministry by people who doubted He was the Messiah. In John 7, the Jews claimed Jesus was demon possessed because He healed someone on the Sabbath, a day set aside for rest. Was Jesus possessed by demons? No! But the Jews let appearances, not realities, determine their opinions of Jesus.
We often judge people based on what they’ve done or how they look instead of who they are. Before you judge on looks or actions, remember that every person is created by God. When we put others in the context of being God’s loved creation, it’s a lot more difficult to hate them.
2. Forgive them.
“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32).
We love that God has forgiven us, but for some reason, we find it hard to forgive others. But if our sin is forgivable, others’ sin is forgivable! Unforgiveness is a burden that keeps us chained to our past and incapable of reaching our future. When we forgive those we hate, it brings us freedom. Forgiving releases our hearts from carrying around resentment and bitterness. And, it demonstrates to those who have hurt us the ultimate forgiveness Jesus made possible when he died on the cross.
3. Pray for them.
“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” (Matthew 5:43-45).
It is impossible to hate someone you’re praying for! Pray for the person who has hurt you, broken your heart or betrayed you, and you will find that as you ask God to move in his or her life your hate will slowly fade.
4. Encourage them.
“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” (Ephesians 4:29).
The best way to kill hatred is celebration. When we celebrate the blessings of others, our hatred will eventually turn to love.