Have you ever hated anyone? Do you hate someone right now?
Single Christians are subject to the same emotions as everyone else, but if we don't guard our thought life carefully, we can easily slip into patterns that are unhealthy.
Ironically, some people who take meticulous care of their body may allow their mind to become polluted with all sorts of poisons.
When someone wrongs us, we can find ourselves despising them. We may even go so far as to plot some sort of revenge against them. It's hard to let it go.
Victims of rape, physical abuse, and emotional abuse may detest their tormentor. Yet this corrosive feeling lengthens the crime against us. It takes what happened in a moment of time, sometimes years earlier, and repeats it again and again. That's why professional counseling is so crucial after a severe emotional trauma.
But what about everyday offenses? What about snubs, criticism, sarcasm, and all the other petty cruelties we've all endured? Is malice toward offenders ever justified?
I'd like to be able to tell you to "turn the other cheek," as Jesus advised, but the truth is that that's easier said than done. None of us wants to turn into a doormat or a masochist. Healthy self-respect demands that we stand up for ourselves and draw the line when it comes to abuse. But when we are picked on, why should we avoid the trap of despising the person who did it?
Well, first, hate is one of those negative emotions that rarely does any good. More often, it festers in us, causing us to obsess over the matter. It wastes your time, energy, and talent. It dominates your thought life, stealing your focus away from improving yourself. And every second that you indulge in loathing another person is a step backwards in your pursuit of happiness. Instead of advancing you toward your goals, this intense emotion puts you on a destructive detour.
Second, it can make you sick. It can crank up your production of stomach acid, adrenaline, and other substances that can take a toll on your health. It can give you headaches, tension, and high blood pressure. Where your body is concerned, this feeling is too expensive.
Third, hate denies that God is just. God doesn't miss anything. You can be sure he saw the cruel act the other person did to you. God will make things right, and if you turn your pain over to him, he will reward your trust in ways you can't imagine. Sin has consequences, and although God is forgiving, he is also just. Let him handle it.
The tough question is, how do we turn this kind of hurt over to God? How do we get it out of our head? Jesus instructed us to forgive an offender "seventy times" (Mt 18:22). It's easier to forgive when we hand the matter over to God.
We grow in Christian maturity when we understand that one of the smartest ways of dealing with offenses is to move on.
We can't afford to get bogged down and lose time. Get counseling if
you need it, but make up your mind that your life is too valuable to
waste it on hating someone.
If you want to steer your life forward, you've got to
take your eyes off the rear-view mirror.
You want a happy, peaceful, joy-filled life and you know that this
emotional poison is an obstacle to that. It simply costs too much.
It's the domain of petty, little people. You're bigger than that,
smarter than that, and a better Christian than that. You have God's
full help to move beyond this destructive feeling, so accept that help
and move ahead.
Break your chains by avoiding bitterness...