I recently came across this thought-provoking Native American legend:
“One evening an old Cherokee Indian told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people. He said, ‘My son, the battle is between two ‘wolves’ inside us all. The first is the wolf of peace, love, and kindness. The other is the wolf of fear, greed, and hatred.
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: ‘Which wolf wins?’
The old Cherokee simply replied, ‘The one you feed.’”
What I found so interesting is not only the truth of this teaching, but that this legend speaks directly on the concept of hate and how it is in direct opposition to love.
This little four-letter-word has been on my mind a lot lately- hearing others speak on how much they hate someone, watching the news and media that focus on hate in the form of violence, racism, and intolerance.
The topic of hate just keeps cropping up and has forced me to consider its strong motivating presence and question whether any forms of hatred are acceptable?
Without jumping to any conclusions, I wanted to see what the Bible had to say on the subject and was somewhat surprised to learn that God actively hates.
Proverbs 6:16-19 tells us:
“There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a person who stirs up conflict in the community.”
I know, it is hard to reconcile the idea of a loving God that is capable of hate.
But, here is the profound difference….
We hate people.
God hates evil.
Hatred is a "heart issue" and one that deserves inspection and attention. If we are carrying around even the slightest hint of animosity toward our fellow man we need to stop. Stop feeding the hate, right now!
Jesus directly addresses this in Matthew 5:43-46:
“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. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?"
It is essential to understand that hatred of evil is acceptable – hating hypocrisy, godlessness, and evil that is present and actionable in this world. To despise the evil that is behind a person's action- but not the person. To hate the sin and not the sinner.
What is not acceptable is allowing hatred and bitterness to grow within our hearts; especially when it begins to manifest itself in actionable ways: hurting others, condemning others, criticizing others, being unkind or merely harboring ill-will towards another human being. Instead, we are encouraged to patiently love one another, keep short records of wrongs, freely extend grace and forgiveness and be kind!
It matters what we hold in our hearts.
It matters what we hate and -
It matters what wolf inside us is being fed.
So, what wolf do you have growing inside of you?
Father, help us to draw closer to you so that we may understand the difference between hating evil and hating people. You call us to love you and to hate evil. It is only through your Holy Spirit that we are capable of loving our enemies, of loving the unlovable. Show us your ways, O Lord, lead us in your truth and teach us.
Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Romans 12:9