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What’s Wrong with a Little Hatred?

The history of hatred and cruelty is as old as history. Ancient glyphs in Egypt, Assyria and Babylon all depict terrible treatment of captured prisoners. It is not limited to any one color or ethnic group. Atrocities done by the Japanese right before WWII toward the Chinese are the stuff of legend. Modern history also knows well the unrestrained hatred of the Jews by the Nazis. There is no point in denying the terrible treatment of many African slaves in America. American Indians were considered “savages” to be pushed aside and slaughtered and white settlers were also slaughtered by Indians.

Unconscionable treatment need not be limited to differing races as hatred of one another in the same race is also well documented. Stalin killed millions of his own Russian countrymen. Fellow black African tribesmen often sought to destroy the existence of each other.

From a historical point of view there might be many complex economic issues, cultural differences, technology inequalities and such, that drive war and hatred but there are also some common threads. The victims were viewed as different, sometimes subhuman, but always as being unworthy of equal consideration. There has to be a distinction between “us” and “them” in order for hatred to flourish. This should be a cautionary warning to all of us about the danger of using labels of any kind.

Anger and hatred can also arise quickly as the frightening statistics regarding “road rage” show. Hundreds of people have been killed and ten’s of thousands of people have been injured by complete strangers who angered each other on American roadways.

The Bible gives testimony to the destructive power of uncontrolled anger. Cain killed Abel in Genesis 4:8, when he was angry.

But surely among polite society and church folks there is no need for warnings against hatred, anger or murder. That would be incorrect. First the apostle John warned, “He who says he is in the light, and hates his brother, is in darkness until now.” (1 John 2:9). Then he adds the next layer, “Whoever hates his brother is a murderer.” (1 John 3:15). From our brother Paul we get the final warning, hatred and anger are works of the flesh and “those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of heaven.” (Gal. 5:20-21).

-Tim Orbison


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