What God Says About Hate

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July 5, 2023

When you hear the word ‘hate,’ what comes to mind?

Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines hate as an “intense hostility and aversion usually deriving from fear, anger, or sense of injury,” as well as an “extreme dislike or disgust.

The Bible has a lot to say about hate and the consequences of it—from the very beginning to the very end. But what does that mean for us?

After looking over many verses across the New and Old Testament, I saw a pattern of three main categories the term hate falls into, and each category provides us insight into God’s character and how we should live.

The Old Testament speaks on this topic A LOT. God loves His people so enormously that He takes the time to see each of us and defends us against our enemies. One example of this is found in Genesis 29:31: “When the Lord saw that Leah was hated, He opened her womb, but Rachel was barren.”

2 Samuel 22:18 provides another example, stating, “He rescued me from my strong enemy, from those who hated me, for they were too mighty for me.”

The Psalms also speak on this frequently, as we see in Psalm 34:21 “Affliction will slay the wicked, and those who hate the righteous will be condemned.”

Lastly, an example of hatred for God is shown in Numbers 10:35, “And whenever the ark set out, Moses said, “Arise, O Lord, and let your enemies be scattered, and let those who hate you flee before you.”

So, what do these examples show us about God and hate? It demonstrates that God is Truth. He is righteousness. He is goodness. He is all that’s right in the world. And those who hate Him and hate those who follow Him will be condemned for rejecting Truth. Having God in our corner is the best defender we can have, and when we love God and love His people, we are protected from those who hate Him.

Another way we see hate described is for evil and wickedness. The Psalms speak a ton on this topic.

The boastful shall not stand before your eyes; you hate all evildoers” Psalm 5:5.

hate the assembly of evildoers, and I will not sit with the wicked” Psalm 26:5.

hate those who pay regard to worthless idols, but I trust in the Lord” Psalm 31:6.

I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless. I hate the work of those who fall away; it shall not cling to me” Psalm 101:3.

These verses highlight something essential to us as believers: not only should we not participate in evil, but we should despise it as much as God does. It should break our hearts as much as it breaks the heart of God. As the first category showed us, God IS righteousness. He is Holy. And because of that, God cannot dwell among sin and evil. Thankfully, we live post-New Testament, so we have Jesus to cleanse our souls and make us right with God. But even though we have Jesus, we should still want to emulate what God loves because we love Him and despise what He despises so as not to hurt Him.

When we think of hate, especially in the context of the Bible, I would assume this is the category that first comes to mind. The famous verses in Matthew 5:43-44 state, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”

This is reiterated in Luke 6:27: “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you.”

1 John also has some pretty strong things to say about the subject of hate. 1 John 3:15: “Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.”

1 John 4:20: “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.”

These verses give us a clear message of how we should live our lives regarding hate. Jesus calls us to love our enemies, even those who hate us. We are not to have hate in our hearts for our brothers, neighbors, or enemies. Each person we encounter is loved and made in the image of God—even those who hate him. And if we truly love God, we will love His people, even if we disagree with them or don’t particularly like them. There is still no room for hate.

What does all of this tell us about God?

To me, this shows God as a creator of unity. It affirms to me that God is good because he wants to see good being done among His people here on Earth. If God didn’t care whether we hated one another, He would feel distant, don’t you think? It would feel like this larger-than-life entity created a bunch of people and just left them to fend for themselves. Unfortunately, that’s a reality that many people buy into. But these verses on hate in the Bible show us that God is so much closer to us than that. They demonstrate God’s deeply personal love for the people He’s created in His image. To care about the way we treat one another, is to care about us directly. And I just find that beautiful, don’t you?

So, instead of ending it here, I’d like to leave us with the Bible’s definition of love:

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a

As we go about the rest of our day, I hope we ponder this verse and think about it in a new light. There’s indeed a lot of hate in the world, and we encounter it far too often. But Jesus calls us to love everyone, including those who hate us. So, let’s take this verse with us today and every day and love boldly because Jesus boldly loves us.