Without Hate We Can’t Love

Which came first? Hate or love? Good or bad? Chicken or egg?

The Talmud tells us that we are born with the Yetzer Hara, or Evil inclination, and that the Yetzer Tov (Good inclination) doesn’t come until we are older (around the time we start to learn Torah, as I recall.) The Christian world calls it Original Sin. Either way, is is our inheritance from Adam.

In the book of Yacov (James) this is confirmed when he tells us that through one man (Adam) sin entered the world.

This seems to be a good argument that evil, hate, and bad things were here first.

Not so. God existed before anything, and He is good. Adam and Eve were not evil, and did not know good from evil until evil was thrust upon them.  So the answer to which came first, good or evil is easy- good was here first.

The answer to the question are we born good or evil is very different: we are born with the Yetzer Hara. That’s how the world is, a cursed place from the time of Adam. Through a mortal the world was cursed, and through a mortal the world was saved, that mortal being Yeshua ha Mashiach. There is another difference, though, one that the 1st Century Jewish population, as a whole, missed: the first man’s actions are completed and affect us while we are in this world, and the second man’s actions won’t be complete until we leave this world. Sin is of the body and of this physical world, but salvation is of the Spirit and the Kingdom of God.

So, why do I say we can’t love without hate? Because in this physical world there is no way to understand something without it having an opposite. Can I know cold without knowing heat? Can I understand the concept of courage if I don’t know fear? Someone who doesn’t know fear can’t be brave. Fear is something God gave us so we can protect ourselves (yes, yes, I know you are saying the Bible tells us we have been given a Spirit of victory not of fear, but this isn’t a spiritual discussion right now. If God hadn’t given us fear of death or pain or solitude we wouldn’t survive.)

Hate is here, and has been since the snake did the nasty to Eve. And we humans really caught on to evil. Within one generation we went from trickery to murder. I guess we are fast learners, but of the wrong things.

So, nu? What are we to do if hate, anger, murder, selfishness, and all these other evil, hedonistic feelings are, by definition, the natural state of being for us? Should we embrace them? I don’t think so.

Through the gift of the Ruach haKodesh, the Holy Spirit, we can overcome them. The Ruach is given freely, all we need to do is ask for it, and then the hard work begins. Like giving up an addiction to drugs, or food, or TV (Oy!- I have to give up TV, too? Nah- you’re OK with TV, just stay off the those nasty pay for view channels) we need to continually remember that we cannot stop these evil inclinations. They are a natural part of us and we will not be fully rid of them until the natural is over. Our only hope is in the Ruach, which can help us to control and overcome these inclinations.

Shaul (that nice Jewish boy from Tarsus many call Paul) said he was a wretch because he did what he didn’t want to, and couldn’t do what he wanted to do. If Shaul admitted that he struggled with his Yetzer Hara, how much more so will we have to struggle with it?

We can’t love until we know hatred. Ergo, we can’t want to love others until we have felt what it is like to be hated. I am amazed (not in a good way) that many minorities, people who have suffered hatred, are themselves hateful. I guess that’s the old Yetzer Hara at it, again.

I am glad that the Ruach teaches me that those who are hateful and mean are hurting, inside. I know because when I am hateful and mean it’s because I hurt. My hurt pride causes me to want to lash out at everyone and everything. In my natural being this is fine, in my Spiritual being I know this is wrong. The more hurt I feel, the more I should pray to God to remind me what it feels like being at the other end of hate. That’s when the Ruach can wake up the Yetzer Tov and remind me of what God wants of us.

You can always get someone to hate something by hating it, but it is much harder to get someone to love something by loving it. In this world, hate is the natural order of things, and love is not.

The truth, as I see it, is that hate is stronger. I know that sounds bad, and love can sometimes conquer hate, but hate is stronger because it is natural for us. Selfishness, hate, pride, all these feelings are of the natural world and we are born into them. They fit us like a custom made suit, and the world confirms this to us, daily. Just read the news.

We need God’s Spirit and His love to help us overcome these things. We can love someone and still hate some things about them, but we can’t hate someone and love anything about them, can we? Do you think that is possible? I don’t. I hope I am wrong.

But I do know that although there is nothing I can do, on and of my own, that will overcome my natural tendencies, with God all things are possible.

Hate sucks, love is wonderful. Look to God and ask for His love, His Grace, accept it and start to live a wonderful life. But be ready for hard work- it isn’t easy living the life of a reformed addict.

Our Gift to God

God already owns everything. David said it, the Prophets said it, we are told this throughout the Tanakh. God is the Creator of everything.

When we tithe, we only give Him back what He already owns.

When we give to the poor, the orphaned and the widow, we give them what God gave us. It was His to begin with.

Our property- His; our gifts and talents- His; our very life- that’s right, it’s His, too. He gave it all to us, and we only give Him back that which He already owns.

Nu? What gift can we give God that is really a gift? What can we give God that is something we own, totally ours and no one else’s, something that He cannot have without us giving it to Him?

What can we possess that God doesn’t have, wants to have, but can’t have unless we give it to Him?

The answer is: our love and our faithful obedience.

God has given each one of us Free Will. We decide what we will do and what we won’t do; consequently, He made us in such a way that He doesn’t already own our love or obedience. And He wants it. He tells us so, doesn’t He? In the Bible, from front to back, we are told that what God wants is faithful obedience. More than sacrifice (maybe because He already owns the animals?), more than lip service, more than anything else. The V’Ahavta prayer (found in D’Varim/Deuteronomy right after the Shema) tells us, first and foremost, we are to love the Lord with all our heart, soul and strength. The Prophets tell us constantly to return to the Lord, and that means to do as He says we should do. Why? For His sake? No, for our sakes!  In Ezekiel God says that He is not glad to see the sinner die, but rather that the sinner turn from his sins and live. God isn’t concerned with this corporeal existence when He says “live”, He means to have everlasting life in His presence. And He desires our love and obedience.

We are told  God can do anything, but that isn’t true. I remember a funny paradox that George Carlin used to say, even though some may think it’s not all that respectful (God has to have a sense of humor- I mean, He created us, right?): George would ask, “If God can do anything, can He make a rock so big He can’t lift it?” I’m sorry, but that’s funny.

But, I digress.

There is one thing God can’t do, and that is sin. Oops! Make that two things God can’t do- sin, and make us love Him. Well, He could make us love Him, I suppose, but He won’t! As much as it hurts the Lord to see even one of His children suffer, He is just and fair. He laid down the rules and we can follow them or reject them.  It’s totally up to each one of us.

I just remembered a story I once heard. No idea where it comes from, and I don’t even know if it’s valid as Jewish folklore, but it certainly sounds correct. I will put it out here and you decide if you like it or not.

Just after the Hebrews safely crossed the Red Sea, and as the waters engulfed the Egyptian army, the angels in heaven said to God, “Let’s sing a song of joy, for the children of Israel are safe!”, but God was sad. When they asked why He was sad, God said, “Because my children are dying.”

If you love the Lord, and you want to give Him something that is truly from your heart that really means something to Him, something He doesn’t have already, then love Him. And show that love by obeying Him.

Yeshua told His Talmudim that if they love Him, they will obey Him. He was just repeating what His Father has always said.

Give God your love and faithful obedience, and you will give God the only thing that exists which He doesn’t already own.



Parashah Va’etchanan

Today’s Parashah is D’Varim (Deuteronomy) 3:23 to 7:11. Within this part is the repetition of the Ten Commandments. I could do a whole book just on those. I mean, really? Who couldn’t?

But don’t worry, I’m not doing that now.

Actually, what I feel I should talk about is just one line, 5:26. Moses relates how the people said they were too frightened to approach God and told Moshe he should talk with the Lord, then tell them what God said. God thought what the people said was good, and then God added, “Oh, how I wish their hearts would stay like this always, that they would fear me and obey all my mitzvot; so that it would go well with them and their children forever.”

To me this shows God’s love for us, but also the fact that God’s love is “tough” love. God loves us, and that is important to know, because His love is not like human love. However, because it is not like human love He will not coddle or enable us to do wrong. He will not be like the mother or father that thinks their child is a good kid, even when everyone else knows the brat is a stinker.

I hear so many people who become Believers because all they can talk about is God’s forgiveness and His love, and I think they are not getting the whole picture. This line, this one statement, really sums up what God feels for us- He loves us, and He wants nothing more than to give us the best there is, always. He wants us to be happy in every way. Yet, He knows we will screw it up, every time. He feels the righteousness of the people, and at the same time He is saddened by the knowledge of what will come in the future. His love is real love, the kind that will be just and true, totally dependable. So is His punishment.

Think about this: God wants to forgive. He isn’t just willing to forgive, He wants to forgive us. But He won’t if we don’t do as we should. All we need to do is ask for forgiveness, and do Teshuva (turning/atonement) in our hearts. God’s a loving and forgiving God, but He’s not stupid and He knows the heart. Asking for forgiveness and then not showing you mean it is not going to work. His love is stronger than anything we can ever understand, but so is His holiness and righteousness, which demands that He judge fairly. This is why Yacov (James) says that faith without works is dead.

If God forgives those who are not turning from their sins, then why should we try to turn from our sins? God will judge, and if we cannot count on His promise to punish those who are not truly repentant, then we cannot count on His promise of salvation, either.

God is love, but that’s not all He is. He is also our God, He is our Father, and He is our Judge and Executioner. He is the one who will decide.

Don’t just think of His love, but think also of what He demands of us and that He will keep His word about both salvation and punishment. To “Fear the Lord” means to worship Him with awe and respect, and we shouldn’t be afraid of God. However, we should be afraid of His judgement and punishment. His promise of salvation is absolute, and His gift of salvation is irrevocable. That means what He promised He will not take away, but that doesn’t mean we can’t throw it away. That’s why He said what He said in this Parashah- He wants to save us, He wants us to be happy, He does love us beyond our understanding. BUT…He is God and will do what He said, and will punish those who are not faithful. And that’s why He was at once both happy that we were so worshipful, and sad because He knew it wouldn’t last. Staying faithful and doing Teshuva- that’s our side of the promise of salvation: we need to keep that in our hearts, always, and work everyday to be more like Him.

We can’t be totally holy, and we can’t do everything in Torah. That’s why we need Messiah. However, we can become better. We can try and continue to run the good race, as Shaul  (Paul) says. Keep our eyes on the prize and so long as we make progress, even if it’s three steps forward and two steps backwards, we are still one step closer to God. I believe that is what will please God and will demonstrate our love for Him. Yeshua told His Talmudim (students) that if they love Him then they will obey Him. That’s the exact way His Dad feels.

God loves us, He wants the best for us, and He will deliver what He promises. Above all, He will judge.  We absolutely need Yeshua as our defence lawyer when we enter His courtroom. If you don’t have Yeshua as your Messiah, don’t wait another second. Ask God for forgiveness, accept that Yeshua is the Messiah and ask Him to send you the Comforter, God’s Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) to come into you and guide you. Ask for Grace, and do Teshuva in your heart right now. You will then know God’s love, and you will know His truth. And you will also know His joy and peace of spirit.

Love Isn’t Enough

The Manual (that is, the Bible. After all, it is the ultimate Users Manual) is full of commandments and exhortations to love each other. Love your neighbor as yourself (Leviticus), God so loved the world He gave His only son (John), in Ephesians, in Numbers (Love the Lord your God with all your heart, strength and soul) , in the Tanakh, in the B’rit Chadashah, everywhere! We are constantly reminded that God loves us and we should love Him, and each other (in that order).

But love isn’t enough. Why? Because human love isn’t God’s love. We don’t love unconditionally. Oh, yeah….people say they do, but we are sinful and self-absorbed. We love people more for how they make us feel as we do for their individual worthiness. What I mean is this: we love people because we see in them things that remind us of what makes us feel good. We love our parents, so we end up finding a mate that has similar qualities, physical and/or emotional, so we can be constantly bombarded with happy memories and feelings. We love people for how they make us feel. Don’t we? Whereas God loves us for ourselves. His love is unconditional and totally absent of ego. Our human love is drowning in ego.

I recognize that my feelings about people are not be “Godly”. I would LOVE it if they were, but it ain’t happening!  I love the Lord, I love my wife, but I love them each in a totally different way. I love really hot buffalo wings, but in a totally different way (and just like love, those wings can turn on you in a second!)

What we need to do is go beyond love. We need to force ourselves to do what God wants, despite our feelings. We need to forgive when we are wronged, even if we can’t stand the person. Doesn’t Yeshua say that it isn’t anything to brag about (I’m paraphrasing here) when we do something nice for someone we love? Wouldn’t even a sinner, if his son asked for something to eat, give him bread instead of a snake? Real love, God’s kind of love, is doing good for people, even those we can’t stand, and even those who can’t stand us.

In Proverbs it says to give our enemy food and water is like pouring hot coals on his head. The idea is that we should do good, it will shock those who hate us, and maybe, just maybe, wake them up and turn them from their hate. That’s God’s kind of love- doing for those who hate us what is good for them.

That’s why (human) love isn’t enough. We need to do more than feel love, we need to act out love. We need to DO what love does, not just what we feel like doing.  We need to push the envelope and get out of our comfort zone; we need to help when we don’t want to help, be compassionate when we don’t care (that’s me all over) and pray good for people we would rather see die a long and painful death.

Hard words. A hard lesson. But, then again, God never said it would be easy, just that it will be worth it when we reach the end.