That isn’t so much of a revelation, is it?
How many of us have had a “falling out” with someone? Usually it’s over something that isn’t really that important, but was at the time we had the falling out. And how much easier is it to just accept that relationship is over than it is to make contact and try to revive that friendship? Hating is easier, hating is what comes natural to sinful beings (like all of us, myself included) and hating is safer.
Yes, safer. Safer because when we try to mend a hurt, we take the chance that we will be hurt again. At Rosh HaShanah it is a tradition to go to one you may have sinned against or hurt and ask forgiveness. I did this, once, to the mother of my children about two years after we had separated. I apologized for any hurtful things I had done and asked forgiveness. What I got was an earful of hatred, spite and anger. She yelled at me, withholding her forgiveness from me as if it was necessary for my salvation. She never knew that the forgiveness she could have given to me would have made her more right with God and had nothing to do with me and God.
Forgiveness doesn’t have anything to do, really, with the person who hurt you and their relationship to God, but it has everything to do with your relationship with God. We are not commanded to ask for forgiveness- we are commanded to forgive (see Matthew 6:14-16); forgiveness of someone else makes us right with God, not them. They have to make themselves right with God.
Hatefulness comes easy to humans for all the reasons I stated above, and for one more: it just feels better. Yes, I admit that and confess it, as well. I have some family members and friends that I need to keep in touch with or they will never call me, visit me or even send me a text. If I am not on Facebook (which, by the way, I am not) then I will never know what is happening in their lives. That knowledge hurts. I love them and miss them and want to be with them, yet they don’t give a hoot about staying in touch with me. I am the one always reaching out to them, and sometimes I just feel like if I never, ever have anything else to do with them I won’t be missing anything at all. If they can’t take a few minutes out of their oh-so-very-important lives to say “Hi” or drop me a line, give me a call or even just leave me a voice mail, then screw them and the white horse they rode in on!!
That’s why love is so much harder- it takes sacrifice, it takes compassion (not one of my strong points) and it takes a high tolerance to emotional pain. Loving is giving, loving is being there when you don’t want to be, and loving is accepting the stripes that someone else deserves. And more than that! Love is doing all that and doing it willingly, without allowing yourself to feel regret you did the “right” thing or to feel animosity against the one you suffered over.
This is the kind of love Yeshua has for all of us. This is the kind of love that God has for you, right now. And it is the kind of love that they both expect you to show to others. More than expect- they require it! If you have known the loving forgiveness of God and understand the depth of the sacrifice Yeshua made so you can be forgiven, and yet you do not show (or at least try to show) that same love to others, then you are the man Yeshua tells us about in the parable of the unforgiving servant (Matthew 18:21-35).
In Matthew 16:24 Yeshua tells us how hard it is to love. He says:
“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”
This isn’t easy, this isn’t something that comes naturally to us, and this isn’t fun. We get a sense of peace and joy from the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) when we are deep in worship, but what we get from the world is a load of crap, hatred, and persecution. Many churches teach all about God’s love, and paint a pretty picture of salvation. In the meantime, they aren’t preparing their flock for the wolves. Yeshua told His Talmudim (students) that they would be sheep among wolves, that they are to be as gentle as doves but as crafty as snakes.
There is an old saying, I am sure you have heard it, that goes, “Time heals all wounds.” I don’t think time alone heals wounds, but with proper care of the wound, putting the balm of God’s love and compassion on it daily, time will eventually overcome the pain and the wound will heal. There is another saying that is similar: it goes, “Time wounds all heels.” Those who are not forgiving, those who hate and persecute, bully and confound, will eventually be wounded. They will feel God’s arrow of justice pierce their liver.
And if the thought that those who have sinned against you makes you feel somewhat avenged, you need top pick up that cross because you aren’t carrying it! I have been hated, and that hatred has poisoned my own children to the point where despite all the sacrifices I made to be with them and try to show them how to be self-sufficient and succeed in the world, they have rejected me and abandoned me. They hate me because they were fed the hatred and spite their mother had against me when I left the marriage (which at that time was a marriage in name only.) And when I think of the suffering they will have to go through, for all eternity, if they don’t do T’Shuvah before they die, I can’t possibly feel anything but sadness and remorse for them. It kills me that they will have to face God without Yeshua in their corner. And not just the kids, but their mother, too. Sure, I have every reason in the world to be glad that she will get what she deserves for doing what she did to me and to our children. All the reason in the world!
But we’re not supposed to be of the world, are we?