rusty gate Image source: Google
“If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.
If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing.
If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.”–1 Corinthians 13:1-3, The Message
What do you think of when you hear the word “love”?
You love Jesus.
You love your spouse, your kids, your sister, and your friends.
You love Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Fudge Brownie ice cream.
You love your cat.
You love the This is Us TV series.
You don’t love bad hair days, gaining back the 15 pounds you lost last year walking and jogging, new wrinkles showing up in the mirror, catty women, and drama.
As I sit here writing at my laptop with an iced coffee, pondering the meaning of the word love, I realize that I so often fail to hit the mark, God’s way. In fact, much more often I’m like that creaking rusty gate in the above-mentioned passage in 1 Corinthians 13:1-3. Squeak, squeak. Rust corrodes and destroys. (Wince.)
Without God’s love in my heart, the Bible says that I’m getting nowhere. Bankrupt. Not a pretty thought.
heart of ice
Sometimes I think that maybe I have a heart of ice. Ray has sometimes called me la belle dames sans merci–the beautiful woman without mercy. It is the name of an English ballad by poet John Keats, considered a classic with numerous interpretations.
In the poem, there’s a bleak wintry landscape and a broken knight. The beautiful lady is a femme fatale who attracts lovers only to destroy them with her supernatural powers. She destroys because it’s her nature to destroy. Not exactly a compliment from my husband, although I like when he calls me beautiful!
La belle dames sans merci
by John William Waterhouse
No, I don’t want to be a femme fatale. I don’t want to hate anyone, either. God is love, and I am called by Him to love others, too. (1 John 4:8)
I want to be a woman of love, and yet even as I type this, I think, “Do I really? Am I willing to do what God requires of me to unconditionally love Him and others? Or am I too comfortable in my own skin of apathy, or even worse, of hate?
Hate is such an ugly word, isn’t it? Certainly not one with which a Christian–a Christ believer and follower–should be associated. And yet, I confess it out loud, now to the entire world.
I struggle with feeling hatred sometimes. I have for my entire life. I especially struggle with it at times in anger toward my husband Ray (and I can think of a few other people right now, too! And just so you know, Ray has struggled with feeling hatred toward me at times, too!)
Former first lady Barbara Bush recounted a time when Ruth Graham, wife of world-renown evangelist Billy Graham, was asked by a writer if she had ever considered divorce. “Divorce? No. Murder, yes.”
Maybe you can’t relate to me or Ruth Graham at all. I commend you for having a happy, free heart oozing over with God’s unconditional, reckless love and you having your life way more together than me.
You might even question if I am really a true Christian if I feel hate. Am I the only Christian who battles the sin of hatred?
No. Recently when Ray and I were in a marriage counseling session, the Christian therapist told me about a recent situation where she and a loved one were arguing loudly in her home, and she felt hatred for this family member.
Did she stay stuck in the sinful stew of hatred in her heart? No. This gifted, anointed Christian therapist decided instead to leave the house, drive off [fast] in her car, and go get a large Diet Coke at Sonic to chill out for awhile. She came back home and they talked about it again more calmly now, reconciling.
I admit that I felt secretly relieved when she told me this story! So, I’m not alone in this struggle! It’s a human dilemma.
The Bible addresses hatred in many verses. Some examples are:
- 1 John 4:20
- 1 John 3:15
- Leviticus 19:17
- 1 John 2:9
- Ephesians 4:31
- Galatians 5:20
- Mark 7:21-22
What’s interesting is that the audience for most of these passages are Christian believers!
How do you overcome this evil weapon of hatred if you struggle with it, too?
- Come to God. God is love. He is the One who can and will teach you how to love others.
- Repent of the sin of hatred. Satan, who is God’s and our enemy, wants you to hate God, other people, and yourself. Ask God’s forgiveness for the hatred.
- Ask God to fill you with His agape (unconditional) love and for victory in the situation.
- Choose to forgive the person for how he or she hurt, angered, or offended you. If needed, ask forgiveness of the person you are struggling with hating if you have sinned against him or her.
- Spend time daily reading and meditating on the Bible, praying, worshipping, and in fellowship with other Christian believers to help you in your walk. You are not alone.
I’m now writing a new non-fiction book: Metamorphosis: Transformed From Hate to Love, which will be available for sale soon at Amazon as an eBook. If you subscribe to my personal mailing list here at BethJones.net, you’ll be first to hear about its release. This is the beautiful cover for the eBook:
Just sign up at the top of the page on the right-hand side with your name and email, and confirm your subscription. You’ll also get a free gift when you sign up!
You can find the other books I’ve written here at my Amazon Author Page.
Have you struggled with hating anyone? Leave your comments below.