When Hatred Is a Good Thing—a Protection
A MIDDLE-AGED mother in the supermarket slipped a can of anchovies into her purse without paying for it. At the same time her husband across the street dropped a slug into a parking meter, where it registered as a dime. Their daughter that day got off work early after lying about being sick. What do you think of acts such as these? Do you view them as clever or do you hate them?
These things may seem petty, but are they? Oceans are made of drops of water. A small spark can set a forest afire. Small wrongs often lead to big disasters. Jesus Christ said: “The person faithful in what is least is faithful also in much, and the person unrighteous in what is least is unrighteous also in much.” (Luke 16:10) So wrong acts, even though small, should not be excused but viewed with serious concern, because they are evidence of moral weakness.
People, no doubt, become more aware of the evils of wrongdoing when the act, little or big, is committed against themselves. Then it hurts. The pain becomes real. If the mother with the anchovies returned home to find her television set stolen, if the father caught someone trying to shortchange him, or if the daughter’s fiancé feigned sickness so as to go out with another girl, doubtless these people would find such acts offensive and would raise a cry of protest. The difference, of course, is that they themselves would be the victims.
When we hear of the bad done in the world—the lying, the frauds, the robberies, the acts of fornication and adultery, the brutality and killings—it helps us to get the right viewpoint if we realize that we or our loved ones might have been the victims. And if a person feels tempted to do wrong, he does well to ask himself how he would feel if that same wrong were committed against himself or members of his family.
Such an approach will cause one to understand and appreciate better why God commands: “O you lovers of Jehovah, hate what is bad.” Also why the apostle Paul urged: “Abhor what is wicked.” And why the psalmist said: “I have hated every false path. Falsehood I have hated, and I do keep detesting it.” (Ps. 97:10; Rom. 12:9; Ps. 119:104, 163) Do you feel as the apostle and the psalmist did about badness? Do you hate what is bad?
WRONG AND RIGHT KINDS OF HATRED
This word “hate” has several shades of meaning. It may denote intense hostility, sustained ill will often accompanied by malice, that impels one to bring harm to the hated object. This is a wrong kind of hatred. It has a bad motive. It is born of the Devil, often is nurtured in a confused and frustrated mind, and is invariably misdirected. The whole history of men and nations under the Devil’s control has been practically a continuous account of violent bloodspilling hatred. Sometimes only a few individuals are involved. At other times anarchy and revolution engulf a whole nation. Frequently the hatred bred by international wars blots out the lives of thousands of innocent ones.
“Hate” may also signify a strong dislike, but without any intent to bring harm to the object, seeking instead to avoid it as when one loathes something distasteful. This kind of hate is good if directed against that which is bad.
This right kind of hatred is in imitation of Jehovah, the God of righteousness. He does not hate what is bad because of frustration nor does he manifest his hate in uncontrolled, intemperate, violent actions. God’s hatred of what is bad is a principled hatred. Such hatred does not disturb one’s peace of mind and afflict one with ulcers. It is a strong dislike, an extreme aversion, a pronounced distaste, a profound repugnance of what is bad. It means to loathe, to abhor, to abominate whatever is bad because it is wrong, very harmful and wholly unloving.—Prov. 6:16-19.
WHY HATE WHAT IS BAD?
First of all, Jehovah hates what is bad. That in itself should be reason enough for any of us also to hate what is bad. If a loving, very wise father refuses to eat poisonous mushrooms, this should be sufficient reason for his little boy also to loathe them. And if the father forbids the boy to eat them, then this is a double reason why an obedient boy who loves his father will despise them as food. To the boy it is not just a matter of hating the consequences of getting sick if he disobeys his father. Rather, his obedience springs from a heartfelt love for his father.
A secondary, yet very important reason for hating what is wrong has to do with the resulting consequences. Says the proverb: “A bad person will not go unpunished.” (Prov. 11:21) Men and women before the flood of Noah’s day did not escape the consequences of doing what was bad; only the eight who hated what was bad survived. (Gen. 6:5-7; 7:1) A more modern example is the experience of the men who engineered England’s greatest train robbery, making away with some $7,300,000. Later, they were all caught and imprisoned. If these men had hated the bad, as God’s Word commands, they would have saved themselves many miserable prison years.—Time, October 31, 1969.
NEED FOR RIGHT HATRED TODAY
The God-given counsel to hate what is bad was never more needed than it is today. Satan and his demons, knowing that their time is short, are doing all they possibly can to corrupt and destroy the human race. They use selfish, greedy men to exploit the weaknesses and sinful tendencies of their fellow humans. Truly we are living in “critical times hard to deal with,” when ‘because of the increase of lawlessness the love of the greater number has cooled off.’ To protect yourself from these conditions you must hate what is bad.—2 Tim. 3:1; Matt. 24:12; Rev. 12:12.
Unless we are strongly opposed to bad, we may be won over by it. Because we are born sinners, our inclination is toward bad. (Ps. 51:5; Gen. 8:21; Rom. 7:14-25) That is why it is not enough just to love what is good; we must also hate what is bad. Jesus Christ ‘loved righteousness and hated wickedness.’ (Ps. 45:7; Heb. 1:9) We must do the same to survive this evil system of things.
There is no neutral middle ground of indifference in this matter. The principle that Jesus stated applies here: “He that is not on my side is against me.” (Matt. 12:30) Jesus Was not indifferent, but actively and uncompromisingly took his stand as a hater of what was bad. If you are not with him in a similar hatred of the wrong you are against him by being a lover of the bad.
Put yourself to the test: Are your standards those of this old world or are yours the Christian standards as set forth in the Bible? The worldly standards say in substance: “You must not steal—much.” “You must not lie—unless you are in a jam.” “You must not commit adultery—except when you are in ‘love.’” Or sometimes worldlings make their law read: “You must not get caught stealing, lying, committing adultery, etc.” Are these your standards? Certainly they are not those of God, Christ Jesus or of true Christians, all of whom hate what is wrong.
What about your standard of morality? Do you go along with those who advocate new, popular standards with convenient escape clauses added? These people will say, “I’m honest—up to a point.” “I’m truthful—a good part of the time.” “You can trust me—if you keep an eye on me.” “I’d never rob a bank, because it’s too dangerous.” “The Bible’s Ten Commandments are great, for the other fellow.”
HATING THE BAD PROTECTS YOU
There are many things that Jehovah hates and which he tells those loving him to hate. To follow through on this divine counsel is beneficial in many respects, one of which is the protection it affords the person obeying. Consider a few examples.
In their illicit sex relations many persons have experienced the fear of unwanted pregnancy, the dread of disease, the threat of abandonment and heartbreak, and the erosion of self-respect. A twenty-two-year-old girl said: ‘I wanted nothing more in the world than to marry him. But when I became pregnant, he abandoned me.’ Had she heeded the wise counsel of God’s Word and hated what is bad, her life would have been altogether different.
A wife said that she “very nearly lost her home, her sanity and everything in life that matters” by engaging in “wife swapping.” “Our foolishness had cost more than we had planned to pay,” she said. “My blood runs cold when I think how close we came to destroying ourselves for a few cheap thrills.” God’s Word protects persons from such miseries, if they will heed the warning and hate what is bad.
Graphically the Bible warns of the result of sexual immorality when it describes the foolish young man that is enticed to have relations with a prostitute: “All of a sudden he is going after her, like a bull that comes even to the slaughter, . . . just as a bird hastens into the trap, and he has not known that it involves his very soul.” (Prov. 7:22, 23) Every year thousands are caught in this “sex trap” and are figuratively led away like animals to the slaughter, pierced through with venereal diseases—all because they spurned the protection that hating the bad would have afforded them.
Drunkenness is a killer. A report from England says that it is responsible for over a third of all fatal car accidents. And yet the remedy is simpler and less costly than safety belts. If these drunkards applied the wisdom of the Bible, hating the bad thing, thousands of tragic deaths could be avoided. Those having woe, uneasiness, contentions, concern, dull eyes, the Bible says, are “those staying a long time with the wine . . . At its end it bites just like a serpent.”—Prov. 23:29-32.
It is good to hate crime and violence, adultery, drunkenness and homosexuality for what they are. Crime robs people of what is rightfully theirs. It is to be loathed. Adultery breaks up families, deprives children of care. It is a sin against God and man and deserving of our deepest hatred. Drunkenness endangers people and also ruins lives. It should be abhorred. Homosexuality is a perversion of the lowest sort. It is detested by God. (Rom. 1:24-27) If you hate such bad things, this is good and for your protection.
But what about those things termed “petty crimes,” like the stealing of the anchovies, cheating the parking meter, or lying to the boss? While such bad things may have a certain appeal, or may seem to do no one any great harm, still sooner or later they too will exact undesirable penalties—guilty consciences, shame and reproach, and estrangement from true friends. If you hate these things too, not because of the penalties, but because Jehovah hates them, this too will be for your protection.
HOW TO HATE WHAT IS BAD
You can do this by keeping far from what is bad. What you abhor, you avoid. You must therefore first know what is bad before you can avoid it. But in this regard you are well equipped, for Jehovah in his Word sets out in great detail what is bad, and often tells us how to avoid it. Study of the Bible is absolutely essential to know how and what to hate.
So it is that enlightened Christians rightly hate those who are confirmed enemies of God, such as the Devil and his demons, as well as men who have deliberately and knowingly taken their stand against Jehovah. (Ps. 139:21, 22) This hatred of such individuals does not seek to inflict injury on them and is not synonymous with spite or malice. Rather, it finds expression in its utter abhorrence and avoidance of those intensely hating Jehovah. You must avoid the “table of demons” if you hope to eat at Jehovah’s table.—1 Cor. 10:21; Rom. 12:9, 17, 19.
Some people may appear to be “nice people,” but one must ask: “Do they have Christian morals and principles? Do they love Jehovah?” Their love of God and neighbor should determine what our relationship with them will be. This matter of association is important, for if we enjoy being with those who do bad things we will soon cease hating what they do.—1 Cor. 15:33.
Positive thinking, of course, is very important. It is not merely a matter of negatively hating badness; a positive love of goodness is also necessary. Hence, the formula for hating what is bad is twofold, as the apostle Paul so concisely puts it: “Abhor what is wicked, cling to what is good.” (Rom. 12:9) Show that you hate wickedness by filling the mind with good thoughts. (Phil. 4:8) Also, fill the heart with good motivations, instead of storing up in it the desires to do bad.—Matt. 15:19; Mark 7:21-23; Prov. 4:23.
Do you hate what is bad? God’s Word urges you to do so. And it is the right, the wise and the loving thing to do. Show, then, that you hate what is bad and love what is good by your choice of associates, by what you think about, what you talk about, and by how you act.