Once, a couple decades ago, I was playing at a friend’s house and said that I hated something. I don’t remember what it was, but I’m sure it was nothing serious – bologna, or sweat, or having to clean my room. My friend’s mother overheard and told me off: “Hate is a strong word!”
I remember looking at her thinking, “It’s a strong feeling: I chose the word carefully!” What was wrong was not so much my hatred as the object of my hatred. Bologna is far to blah for an emotion like hate. Hatred is a loathing, a visceral revulsion, a hostility toward the cause of the emotion.
Now I hate more appropriate things. I hate it when my children hurt each other. I hate seeing pastors suffer unjustly. I hate the Super Bowl. Two decades have brought some maturity.
But I still hate things that I have no biblical reason to hate. Often, I hate things simply because they are inconvenient, like traffic delays. Or I hate having my plan for the day interrupted by someone else’s problem. These are wrong expressions of hatred, and I need growth in grace to put them to death.
If my hatred was biblically mature, I would hate my own sin the most. Often, I don’t hate it, even when I’m fighting against it. I often fight against it because I know that I’m supposed to, because holiness leads to blessing, and because that’s what I’ve been trained to do. Far too often, I hate other things more than I hate not being or doing what God requires or than doing what God forbids. There is great need for growth there.
Hatred is actually a communicable attribute – one that God Himself exhibits allows us to share. My hatred will be glorifying to God when, out of a desire to be more like Him, I hate what He does: His enemies (Ps. 139:22), pride (Prov.8:13), evil (Amos 5:15), heresy (Rev. 2:6). My hatred will be glorifying to God when, out of love for Christ, I stop hating what the world hates: my enemies (Matt. 5:43-44), correction (Prov. 9:8), knowledge (Prov. 1:22). “Hate” is a strong word – let’s use it when we have strong feelings, and let’s work and pray so that those feelings are in accordance with God’s Word and character.