• Jesus Loves Haters

Hate is a strong word.

Using the word conveys deep-seated feelings toward a person or thing. Being on either end of hatred—hating a person or thing or being hated—causes animosity, resentment, discouragement, bitterness, and anger.

While many know the word hate, the word hater is not as widely recognized. According to NPR journalist Linton Weeks, however, "Haters are here. And there. And everywhere. And the word 'hate' is in the air."1

Weeks went on to describe haters as people ranging "from disrupters at political rallies to sign makers at sports contests, from erudite misanthropes to semiliterate missive senders, from stand-up comedy hecklers to dish-served-cold revenge-seekers.

"They can be passionate or passive-aggressive. They can be smart or stupid. But nowadays they seem to be everywhere.

"What is their point? 'Haters want to be feared and heard,' says Brian Britt, a professor of religious studies at Virginia Tech University who studies the evolution of hate. 'Their use of outrageous behaviors is designed strategically to get attention. They violate norms of "niceness" and civil behavior in order to make a point.'"2

And "make a point" haters do, wreaking havoc in other's lives, situations, and beliefs.

Weeks is right—haters seem to be everywhere. There's even a wikiHow3 page created for haters. Among the thousands of topics wikiHow has offered advice on—how to get rid of a cold sore with home remedies, how to annotate, how to ice your windshield, how to be a knight, how to stop biting your nails—there is now a page on how to stop being a hater.

Here's the advice the page offers:

  • Take a step back.
  • Stop comparing yourself to others.
  • Define success your way.
  • Think about what you say before you say it.
  • Avoid the things you hate.4

While this advice doesn't exactly help define what a hater is, it sure gives a clue as to the root of the problem: anger, hurt, disdain, frustration, and bitterness against someone or something.

A cursory Internet search shows that haters are universal—there are websites dedicated to hating people and places from all around the world"

A cursory Internet search shows that haters are universal—there are websites dedicated to hating people and places from all around the world (from pop stars5 to popcorn6). There are even websites dedicated to helping you cope with haters.

Maybe you're a hater. We hope not. But if you are, or if you're dealing with haters—those who are heated, harmful, and hurtful—the good news is that Jesus loves haters and wants to restore their hearts (the source of the intentions behind their remarks), their heads (thoughts), and their hands (actions). Jesus wants to turn the hater into a lover of God and people.

Define

The Internet has moved hating much more into the public conversation, but hating has been around as long as hatred itself.

According to Dictionary.com, to hate is to "dislike intensely or passionately; feel extreme aversion for or extreme hostility toward; detest."7

A hater is someone who hates a specified person or thing. The Urban Dictionary gives a little more insight: "A person that simply cannot be happy for another person's success. So rather than be happy they make a point of exposing a flaw in that person. Hating, the result of being a hater, is not exactly jealousy. The hater doesnt [sic] really want to be the person he or she hates[;] rather the hater wants to knock [someone else] down a notch."8

Perhaps the most common usage of the word hater is in the phrase "Haters gonna hate," used to call out someone who has expressed unfounded negative emotions toward someone else. In that sense, the phrase is a rebuke. For example, a hater might say, "If Frank is doing so well, why is he driving that '74 Mustang?" A non-hater's response would be along the lines of "Haters gonna hate. Let the man drive what he wants."

Discover

When discovering what the Bible has to say about hatred, blame-shifting, or insults, there is a host of Scripture references to help the hater deal with their attitude and actions. Here is a small sampling:

  • "You shall not hate your brother in your heart. You shall surely rebuke your neighbor, and not bear sin because of him" (Leviticus 19:17).
  • "The fear of the Lord is to hate evil; pride and arrogance and the evil way and the perverse mouth I hate" (Proverbs 8:13).
  • "The foolishness of a man twists his way, and his heart frets against the Lord" (Proverbs 19:3).
  • "Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you" (Matthew 7:1-2).
  • "But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you" (Luke 6:27-28).
  • "Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good" (Romans 12:9).
  • "But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another!" (Galatians 5:15).
  • "Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice" (Ephesians 4:31).
  • "Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord" (Hebrews 12:14).

Develop

When developing a plan to combat hatred—whether it's yours or someone else's—consider this acronym, which offers a response of FAITH. To paraphrase a popular church saying, hate the hatred, not the hater.

F—Forgive them. Jesus is clear: we are called to forgive people, even those we do not like or get along with.
A—Accept or Acknowledge. Accept criticism if it is legitimate. But if the person is hating for hating's sake, acknowledge their words, then entrust the person to the Lord through prayer.
I—Initiate a conversation about Christ. Take the opportunity to share the gospel or a biblical text concerning love, hope, and kindness. Do this in a spirit of friendliness. Do not repay anger with anger or evil with evil.
T—Trust God to work in the person's heart. Know that haters have a built-in system of responding to people or circumstances in a negative way. If the person is a Christian, take them to Scripture, showing biblical responses to offset negative talk (such as Colossians 3:12-17). In short, give them tools for their tool chest, a new way to work through the trials and temptations of hating.
H—Healing. As you work through a plan to help the person, give it time. Healing and restoration are part of the process. Allow God to be the healer; you can help the person by pointing them to Christ.

Jesus loves haters. Will you?

 

 

1 Linton Weeks, "'Haters' Are Going to Hate This Story," December 30, 2011, accessed 1/7/15.

2 Ibid.

3 A do-it-yourself Internet site.

4 "How to Stop Being a Hater," accessed 1/7/15.

5 Tim Teeman, "Why We Should Hate 'Haters Gonna Hate,'" August 25, 2014, accessed 1/7/15.

6 Shael Riley, "The Popcorn Hater," accessed 1/7/15.

7 Dictionary.com, "Hate," 2015, accessed 1/7/15.

8 Urban Dictionary, "Hater: Top Definition," February 4, 2005, accessed 1/7/15.