I know, I know- love conquers all. Yeshua and God are love, and nothing is stronger than they are, so the obvious answer is that love is stronger than hate.
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We are told in the Bible that even sinners do good things for the ones they love (Luke 6:32) and that we should love each other as ourselves. So, since sinners love, and righteous people love, then love must be stronger, right?
Fine. But, if that is true, then how come there is so much hatred in the world?
And if we are to love others as we love ourselves, what about those people who actually hate themselves? You know who I mean- people who do things that are harmful to their health and refuse to stop doing it; people who purposefully say and do things that ostracize them from the general population (but not by being holy); people who reject friends and family in order to hoard animals until their homes are a health hazard. These people don’t love themselves, so how can they really love others?
There are many people who often prefer to hate and keep hatred in their hearts by refusing to forgive others. And, as much as I hate to say it (no pun intended), I count myself as one of that crowd.
I know the importance of forgiving, and I am much better at it than I ever was, thanks be to God and Yeshua, but I am still angry and sometimes feel the need for vengeance on some who have been unfair and very hurtful to me in the past.
We all know there is a very thin line between love and hate: these have got to be the strongest emotions humans have. If you want to see how thin that line is, go ahead and watch a couple of episodes of the old TV show “Love Boat”: no matter how much the couple hates each other when the cruise starts, in the end, they are all lovey-dovey and the world is wonderful.
Seriously, hatred can stem from love, but I don’t think it works the other way around. That old adage, “Familiarity breeds contempt” is based in truth. Sometimes, what we love about someone is not enough, and that love can turn into hatred: maybe not the “I need to kill you!” kind of hatred, but the kind where one no longer loves the other and must get away from the other person because the relationship has become poisonous.
Maybe the issue is not whether hate is stronger than love, or love is stronger than hate, but that they can be equally strong, and one needs something extra to overcome the other?
The quickest way to generate hatred in someone is to do them harm, either physically, emotionally, or socially. And, I believe (maybe you’ll agree) when we hate we leave less room in our heart for love. It’s as James says in James 3:11, where he says a well cannot give forth both fresh and salty water. The more we hate, the less we are able to love, and the more we love, the less we will hate, but in the long run, I believe that hatred will fill a heart faster than love will.
Why do I say this? Because I observe the world, I see people, I study history, I read the Bible, and I am not so naïve as to wish for something that is obviously not true.
But let’s go back to what I just was thinking, about that something “extra” that might give the edge to one or the other. I think I know what that is…it’s forgiveness!
I have seen how forgiveness can overcome hatred. In fact, in those “Love Boat” episodes, it was often enough forgiveness that changed their hearts towards each other.
Actually, now that I think about it, forgiveness is an expression of love, isn’t it?
Hatred is pretty much a simple thing, but love is complex. I don’t think we can love something about someone we hate, but I know, for a fact, that we can hate something about someone we love. And how is it possible to hate something about someone without it turning into hating them?
Because of forgiveness!
So, I have come to the conclusion that forgiveness is the thing that makes love stronger than hatred. Hatred is a part of who we are and must continuously be fought against. It is, like sin, crouching at our door always there, waiting to take us over, and when the Enemy comes (as he has done in the past) he will not take over through love but through hatred. He did it with the Crusades, the Inquisition, in Nazi Germany, and today he is doing it right here in America!
Throughout history, when people were strongly bonded together, it has been hatred that is the glue the Enemy used to form that bond.
God hates sin but loves the sinner, and he is not just willing to forgive, but he desires to do so (Ezekiel 18:23), so to overcome hatred, which only reduces our ability to love, we need to exercise forgiveness.
Hatred is the weapon of the Enemy and love is the defense; but, without forgiveness, love isn’t enough. Maybe that’s why we are commanded to forgive because God knows that without forgiveness, love cannot conquer hate.
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