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Christian Living

Spiritual Life

How You Can Overcome Hate

“Let no man pull you so low as to hate him.” Martin Luther King, Jr.

Saturday afternoon, my husband and I strolled down Fayetteville Street in Raleigh from the State Capitol Building to Raleigh Memorial Auditorium. After weeks of silent streets, it was a joy to see families enjoying the spring day. Life promised the return of normal. Little did we know that in hours this peaceful street would erupt in chaos.

In sadness and horror, my family watched displays of evil spewed across our TV screen. A local news commentator apologized for the foul language being shouted in the background. A text from one who serves with a neighboring police department relayed, “Help, protect me,” calls are coming in from all over the city. The violence is from “blood-related gangs,” who viciously attack the police they outnumber.

The Battle Between Love and Hate

I listened to two live worship concerts while this was going on and marveled at the contrast between the news and these virtual gatherings that lifted up the name of Jesus. Men and women from every race joined together lifting their prayers and praises to God over Pentecost weekend.

I wondered what would happen if our news covered the worship rallies instead of the hate mobs, then realized lack of media coverage can’t hinder the power of God released through worship. I can’t control the news coverage, but I can choose what I listen to.

Getting to the Root of the Problem

Racial problem? The Bible calls it sin. Destruction and theft for any reason, whether against an individual or against a community, are manifestations of sin (John 10:10). Sin kills and destroys.

Injustices should move us. But, as Mama said, “Two wrongs don’t make a right.” Hearing of the destruction and remembering the small business owners we’d chatted with that day, who had already suffered loss through the quarantine, saddened and infuriated me. But to respond in kind to wrongdoers makes me like them.

So how do we overcome evil?

“Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord. …Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:17-19, 21 NIV).

Evil is infectious. When we try to avenge wrong, it overcomes us.

The Power of Forgiveness

My husband once talked with a woman whose family showed strength in the face of evil. Her father had suffered cruelty at the hands of racists. She also experienced racial prejudice. Larry asked her how she dealt with it.

My father always said, “Don’t let them make you become like them.”

Her gentle role model inspired her to rise above the injustices she suffered. Father and daughter became better instead of bitter. They practiced Martin Luther King, Jr.'s words, “Forgiveness is not an occasional act; it is a constant attitude.”

How Can We Overcome Hate?

  • Don’t categorize all who sympathize with a cause the same.
    I support peaceful pro-life demonstrations. But I am horrified when someone blows up a clinic in the name of pro-life. As the police friend observed, he doubted much of this violence has anything to do with George Floyd.
     
  • Guard your heart.
    Hate poisons the one who harbors it. I have to guard myself from too much news. When I put myself in a position to fret and fume, I open myself to sin (Ps. 37:8). Turn that fire into fuel for good (1 Jn. 4:8).
     
  • Ask God to bless your enemies.
    There is only one solution for sinners—Jesus (Rom. 4:24). By repentance and faith, they can become new creations in Christ and experience His peace and love.

My sister texted me a picture of Martin Luther King Jr. on his knees. In the background, his followers joined him in prayer. I close with his words,

“Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend.” Martin Luther King, Jr.

Copyright © 2020 Debbie W. Wilson, used with permission. For more on this topic from Debbie's website: "Should I Love Those Who Do Things I Hate?"

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