It’s not a good feeling to be hated or even disliked. Often, you can’t even clearly identify the source of another person’s resentment. In other cases, you might know the source, but the hatred is a misunderstanding or genuine mistake. Have you ever been there? For the sake of peace, you’ve tried to extend an olive branch, but in return you’ve received an unforgiving response, anger, bitterness, or even denial of the issue. If we’re not careful, those few people who actually despise us can play tricks on us. We can spend too much valuable time pondering the source of their hatred, getting angry or staying bewildered instead of focusing on productive and fruit bearing endeavors. In a nutshell, being hated or disliked can either give us fuel to go higher or permanently ground us. It’s up to us.
As we all know, we can’t change anyone. God can change hearts if the person allows Him to; otherwise, we only have the power to change ourselves. We can decide that our bad feelings about being hated on will not dictate our actions, words, and deeds. We can choose to focus on all that’s good, positive and productive. It’s so easy to spend a lot of time worrying about the people who don’t like us, but it’s a spiritually dead plight. It won’t get us anywhere. However, as mature Christians, we can simply let negative emotions, actions, and words go.
I’ve realized that some of the most painful emotions come from unmet expectations. When we expect a certain outcome for whatever the reason and relationship and we are let down, feelings of hurt, anger, and rejection can follow. These feelings can lead to bitterness if we don’t cut them down at the root. Sometimes we have unrealistic expectations from others. They are not equipped or unwilling to give us what we may feel we need or want. We have to know that it’s okay. God, in His infinite grace and kindness, always provides an avenue for us to have our needs and wants met. We cannot force a loving response from someone who is in an ungodly place, for whatever reason. Trusting that God will supply all of our needs is paramount.
Jesus says in John 15:18, “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.” Of course, we know that religious leaders felt threatened by Jesus because He was making their religion useless, unfruitful, and ineffective. Jesus tells us that, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake.” When we are doing His will and we are hated for it, the kingdom of heaven is ours. God’s righteousness reigns supreme in heaven, and we must set that as our goal, not why someone doesn’t like us. When we live right and for God, we will be disliked and hated by some.
It’s critical for us to examine ourselves to make sure that our actions, words and deeds are Christ-like. It’s not always someone else’s issue. Sometimes it’s us. The only way that we can see ourselves clearly is by reading the Word and praying. God will show us ourselves much better than any mirror can. If we refuse to take a good look at our own actions, words and deeds, we can have “haters” who might have some legitimacy to their feelings. Many times others can see us better than we can see ourselves.
On the other hand, when we are confident that we are not at fault in any way, we can rest assured, knowing that if God is allowing it, He will use that hatred, dislike, bitterness and resentment meant to destroy us for our good. When others see us withstand the enemy’s darts without hating back, we win.
One final word to those who refuse to let go of negative feelings towards another person. Negative energy destroys you more than the person who is the object of your hate or dislike. Ask God to help heal you from the hurt, jealousy, or resentment today. People who are angry with other people, whether justified or not, hold on to offenses and live in bondage. Choose to live in the freedom of Christ’s love.
“ . . . let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12:1-2).
Yours in Christ,