A time to love, and a time to hate. 

Of all the items that could be in this litany of appointed times, why would hate be included?   The Bible is clear that hatred is a sin.   “Whoever hates his brother is in darkness. . . . Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer”(1 John 2:11; 3:15).   So how can there be a time to hate?

Actually, the writer of Ecclesiastes is reflecting on human experience as it is, not necessarily as God wants it to be.   We all know what it feels like to hate someone; we may have even have hated ourselves at one point.   It’s a part of our fallen human nature.   Hatred can stem from a hurt or injustice done to us or a loved one.   It can flow from anger or envy, from self-righteousness or shame.   It might even be rooted in fear, whether fear of someone who threatens us or of someone who is different from us.

So yes, unfortunately, there is a time to hate.   But God asks us to take this “appointed time” to reflect on our hate and find a way, with his grace, to turn it to love (Ecclesiastes 3:1).

If you sense that you have negative feelings toward someone, stop and ask the Spirit to help you understand why.   Your reactions may unveil your own sense of weakness or brokenness.   Then you can ask God to help you root out this underlying cause and take another step toward love.

For instance, you may hate someone because of something hurtful they have said or done to you.   Jesus wants to help you try to forgive.   Perhaps you hate someone because they are embroiled in a pattern of sin that is overflowing to other people.   Let Jesus remind you that we are all sinners.   Sometimes, when a person is doing truly evil things, it is especially hard to love them.   Maybe all you can do is pray.   Even this is a step out of the darkness.

Hatred doesn’t do anybody any good;  it moves us to treat someone else poorly even as it keeps us locked in bitterness and resentment.   So when you sense hatred rising in your heart, stop and ask the Spirit to help you identify its source.   Then ask for grace to move out of the darkness of hate and into the light of God’s love.

Word Among Us