by Richard Lim

Hatred is a sin that has caused many atrocities in our world in the past and in our present time. Where there is envy, strife, enmity, conflict, or tension, all we need to do is look a little deeper to find one or both parties guilty of hatred. A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger quiets contention. (Pro. 15:18 ESV). Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all sins. (Proverbs 10:12). Two things are compared in this verse. They are hatred and love. Where there is fighting, there is hatred. Unless love wins, the strife will get worse.

Hatred is a heart ailment that is forbidden by God both in the Old Testament and the New Testament. “Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart …” (Leviticus 19:17). When Jesus was on earth, He said murder stems from hatred in Matthew 5:21-22 – “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire.”

The book of Proverbs tells us that hatred flows out of anger and pride. “An angry man stirs up strife, and a furious man abounds in transgression” (Pro. 29:22). “He who is of a proud heart stirs up strife, but he who trusts in the Lord will be prospered” (Pro. 28:25). “As charcoal is to burning coals, and wood to fire, so is a contentious man to kindle strife” (Pro. 26:21). When we have hatred in our hearts, we will dig up evil and spread evil information.

“An ungodly man digs up evil, and it is on his lips like a burning fire. A perverse man sows strife, And a whisperer separates the best of friends” (Pro. 16:27-28). Hatred is harboured only by fools … “Whoever hides hatred has lying lips, and whoever spreads slander is a fool” (Proverbs 10:18).

The Bible describes hatred as cruel. “Consider my enemies, for they are many; And they hate me with cruel hatred” (Psalms 25:19). In its cruelty, hatred led to the murder of Abel committed by Cain. The strife that generated between Joseph and his brethren generated from hearts of hate … “And when his brethren saw that their father loved him more than all his brethren, they hated him, and could not speak peaceably unto him. And Joseph dreamed a dream, and he told it his brethren: and they hated him yet the more (Genesis 37:4-5).

Because they hated him, Joseph’s brothers said, “Let us slay him” (Genesis 37:20). It was hatred that Absalom had Amnon killed (2 Samuel 13:21-29). “But when King David heard of all these things, he was very angry. And Absalom spoke to his brother Amnon neither good nor bad. For Absalom hated Amnon, because he had forced his sister Tamar.”

Finally, it was the sin of hatred that got Jesus killed. “If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also” John 15:19-20.

We can overcome hatred. Proverbs 10:12b gives us the solution to overcome hatred: it is love. It tells us that love covers all transgressions. The love mentioned here is the very kind of love of a man for a woman or the love of God for His people. This kind of love is selfless and self-giving love. The word “cover” is the Hebrew word “kasah” and it means to clothe or conceal something.  This is not the “cover-up” that we refer to when speaking of illegal activity. 

Covering sins does not mean we are to compromise with sin, i.e. to tolerate or endorse or approve of sin. It is not withholding scriptural judgment, whether in the family, church, business, or nation. The rightful authority should speedily execute judgment, where God has ordained it. But covering sins should occur when the offences are against us, where there is repentance. That means that we should be willing to forgive those who sin against us.

An example that we can learn about covering sins is Jesus Himself. “Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” And they divided His garments and cast lots” Luke 23:34. Jesus did not hold any grudge against the people that had crucified Him with great cruelty. In fact, we can read in 1 Peter 2:21-23 “For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: “Who committed no sin, nor was deceit found in His mouth”; who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously.”

So much so that Stephen the martyr similarly said in Acts 7:60 – “Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not charge them with this sin.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.” Another example in the Old Testament is Joseph, whose brothers could not believe his forgiveness, even after many gifts, favours, and the passage of time (Gen 45:1-15; 50:15-21). He was able to put the best perspective on their horrible crime and wept over all of them. How did the Lord reward this one son of Jacob? He gave him a double blessing of two tribes in Israel (Josh 14:4).

One of the best measures of a Christian is how well they love and forgive (I John 2:9-11). A person cannot say, “Oh, how I love Jesus,” and they stir up trouble, do not forgive personal offences, and ignore repentance by sinners. They are lying hypocrites, for the Bible says they are murdering descendants of Cain in I John 3:10-15, “In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother. For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another, not as Cain who was of the wicked one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his works were evil and his brother’s righteous. Do not marvel, my brethren, if the world hates you. We know that we have passed from death to life because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death. Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.”

So brethren, if we truly believe God loves us, prove it by loving others; if we claim to love God, prove it also by loving others. Since God is love, those that are truly God’s children will love others (Jn 13:34-35; I Jn 4:7-21; 5:1-2). May the Lord grant us the grace and wisdom for this task.