The Godly Qualities of Love and Hate
“Hate what is bad, and love what is good.”—Amos 5:15.
1. Is it proper for a Christian both to love and to hate?
LOVE and hate. Can one possess these opposite qualities and still be pleasing to God? Yes, according to the Bible writer Amos. He was inspired to command the ancient people of God, the nation of Israel: “Hate what is bad, and love what is good.” (Amos 5:15) In a similar vein an earlier Bible writer, Solomon, said there is “a time to love and a time to hate.”—Eccl. 3:8.
2. (a) How do the majority of people express love and hate? (b) Where does one get the correct view of godly love?
2 Love and hate are words often misunderstood today. What other word has been written about, talked about and sung about as much as the word “love,” and yet how many people could even tell you what it is? People are said to love sports, television, cars, and even cats and dogs. On the other hand, people are said to hate such things as capitalism, Communism, dictatorships and other forms of governments. They also hate taxes and authority. A strong hatred often exists between people of different nationalities and races, between management and labor, between rich and poor. Is this the kind of love and hate that the Bible writers are talking about? Have you as a Christian become influenced by the world’s distorted view of love and hate? As we now examine the godly qualities of love and hate, you will be helped to determine the answer. First, let us examine the godly quality of love in detail, as outlined by the apostle Paul under inspiration in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8.
THE GODLY QUALITY OF LOVE
3. Illustrate the actions of one who is “long-suffering and kind.”
3 “Love is long-suffering and kind.” This means more than just putting up with hardship but implies patient forbearance of unfavorable circumstances. In a family, Christians with godly love do more than just endure the imperfections of one another. Yes, they patiently “continue putting up with one another and forgiving one another freely if anyone has a cause for complaint against another.” (Col. 3:13) Even in such a close relationship as that of husband and wife, differing viewpoints call for a display of this love. For example, one mate may enjoy visiting certain friends or relatives from time to time. This may not be especially appealing to the other. Are we going to insist on having our own way, or go along begrudgingly, making the occasion unpleasant for all? One with godly love will cultivate an interest and find enjoyment in what pleases one’s mate. Outside the Christian congregation one may have additional opportunity to show long-suffering when talking to neighbors and others about the Bible’s good news. Some may respond very discourteously or even rudely to a conversation about Jehovah God and his purposes. Will the loving Christian minister want to retaliate with sharp words or curt remarks? No, because he is “long-suffering and kind.”
4. In what ways may jealousy manifest itself, and how does love view matters?
4 “Love is not jealous.” The circumstances of Jehovah’s people are many and varied, some being materially poor while others may be well off financially. Both those who are poor and those who are well-to-do are the same in the eyes of Jehovah. So is there any reason for those of lesser means to be longing for the material advantage of their brothers, or should they hold that against their brothers? Such an attitude may subtly creep into a Christian if he is jealous. Remember, the Bible does not condemn money, but, rather, the “love of money.” (1 Tim. 6:9, 10; Heb. 13:5) Or, in a different vein, perhaps your Christian brother has been given certain privileges in the congregation. You were passed over, even though you always felt you had more ability than he. Now how do you feel? Do you feel just a tinge of jealousy? Godly love is not jealous. It will not cause us to view our brothers as rivals; rather, we will be joyful to see others progress. We are just happy and content to have a place in Jehovah’s organization.
5. How does humility manifest itself?
5 Love “does not brag, does not get puffed up.” Whom or what we talk about is a good measure of ourselves in this regard. Do you find that you talk about yourself quite a bit, always subtly trying to control the conversation and yet trying to leave the impression that you do not want to call attention to yourself? Are you always the one telling your experiences, relating your accomplishments in life? Is your motive for relating such experiences because you are trying to encourage your brothers, or are you trying to call attention to yourself? Certainly it is a fine thing to tell experiences about the field service, and it is even to be encouraged, yet the loving Christian will play down his own role as the one who was instrumental in aiding others. Rather, he will always give the credit to Jehovah. How considerate and beneficial it is to draw out others and hear what they have to say! It is an indication of humility, which is one of the identifying aspects of godly love.—1 Pet. 4:11.
6, 7. How may indecency manifest itself?
6 Love “does not behave indecently.” Other translations say, Love is not “rude,” “does not shock people.” (New English Bible; Byington) There are many things that are strikingly indecent, such as fornication, uncleanness and fits of anger. (Rom. 13:13) However, have you ever considered that poor manners are indecent or rude? For example, children are often allowed to dominate a conversation with adults present, or to interfere with such by running around noisily. Sometimes they stick chewing gum on chairs or write on walls or on the furniture in a Christian meeting hall. Can this type of behavior be classified as anything but indecent? Parents who love their children do not allow them to “behave indecently” even in these ways.—Compare Deuteronomy 23:14.
7 In the Scriptures love and hospitality are closely associated. (Heb. 13:1, 2; 1 Pet. 4:8, 9) So how do we view those who move into our congregation? Perhaps they have sold their home and given up their job in order to come and be of assistance to the local congregation. They may even be those who spend their full time in the public preaching. Do we “behave indecently” by treating them coolly? Are we skeptical because they may speak with a different accent or wear a somewhat different style of clothing? Godly love moves us to display warm Christian hospitality. We are moved to do what we can to help and to make them feel right at home.—Rom. 12:13.
8. Whose advantage does godly love seek? Illustrate.
8 Love “does not look for its own interests”; rather, it is guided by a principle stated earlier by Paul: “Let each one keep seeking, not his own advantage, but that of the other person.” (1 Cor. 10:24) At Christian assemblies do you push or shove to get ahead of others? Do you reserve seats for yourself without concern for others? Or in the local congregation there may be certain areas in the community that have been especially fruitful when calls were made at the homes in the preaching work while other sections may be noted for general lack of interest among the people. Do we insist on always having the most favorable localities for our preaching work? Do we feel possessive, not wanting others to call in these areas, feeling the territory belongs to us? Can we imagine Christ Jesus viewing matters in this way? Godly love will cause us to put personal interests in the background.
9. Illustrate how godly love will help us to view the actions of others properly.
9 Love “does not become provoked.” When traveling by automobile, how do you feel when someone cuts in front of you? What do you do when you are stopped for a traffic light and the driver behind you blows his horn just as the light changes? Do you creep away very slowly just to show that person that there is no profit in impatience? One with godly love does not allow himself to become provoked by the poor manners displayed by this world. Why should a Christian become upset because taxes go up and many services deteriorate? Is this not more evidence of the fast-approaching end of this system of things? In the congregation, elders and ministerial servants should not get irritated or provoked because others fail to turn in certain reports on time or because some do not seem to appreciate fully the message from God’s Word the Bible. Godly love allows for human imperfection and acknowledges the right of each to determine how he will respond to God’s love.
10. How does love help us in our relationship with Jehovah and our brothers?
10 Love “does not keep account of the injury.” Do you remember something done against you five or ten years ago? Perhaps you were offended, but it is just not in harmony with God’s Word to keep track of such things and continually bring up the past. One who keeps track of personal offenses and harbors grudges accomplishes no good for himself or others. His negative outlook causes a loss of joy for himself and those around him. His very relationship with Jehovah is affected, for how could such a man pray, “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors”? (Matt. 6:12) As James says: “For the one that does not practice mercy will have his judgment without mercy.” (Jas. 2:13) How fine it is, at the end of the day when we approach Jehovah in prayer and ask for his forgiveness, to know that we have not kept account of the injury!—Matt. 18:21, 22; Eph. 4:26.
11. What identifies one who “rejoices with the truth”?
11 Love “does not rejoice over unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth.” One who appreciates this aspect of godly love does not seek out as entertainment books, television programs, or motion pictures that feature what is unrighteous. To the contrary, such persons by the things they talk about in their daily conversation and in times of relaxation show that they ‘rejoice with the truth.’ Jesus said: “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.”—Matt. 12:34.
12. Why does a Christian ‘bear all things’? Illustrate.
12 Love “bears all things.” This expression literally means “all things it is covering.” (1 Cor. 13:7, Interlinear) It covers like a watertight roof, protecting what is below. It fends off, repels. So the word also means bear up, sustain. (1 Cor. 9:12; 1 Thess. 3:1, 5) Godly love is realistic; it does not expect perfection from imperfect people. It is willing to put up with a lot and is not overly sensitive. When a member of our family or of the Christian congregation makes a mistake, rather than advertising it, godly love will cause us to seek to overlook and protect the erring one where no serious wrongdoing is involved. Through mistreatment as a Christian in the field service, at our place of employment or in school, love “bears all things.”—Prov. 10:12; 17:9.
13. How has it proved beneficial for a Christian to have faith in Jehovah and his organization?
13 Love “believes all things.” This is not to imply that Christians are gullible. The point is that Christians have implicit trust in their heavenly Father; they do not question what he tells them through his written Word and organization. Things work out well for those who in this trusting way go along with God’s way of doing things. For example, Jehovah through his organization has for years warned his people of the harmful effects of using tobacco, and those who heeded this advice were benefited both physically and spiritually. Perhaps some did not understand why they should not use tobacco. Yet it was to their benefit to ‘believe all things’ though not completely understanding the reason why, Scripturally or physically. Today we have the Scriptural basis as well as the fact that the medical world recognizes the sound practical basis for refraining from the use of tobacco.—2 Cor. 7:1.
14. Why should one never give up hope?
14 Love “hopes all things.” Perhaps we have been calling on people in a certain area in the Christian preaching work without much in the way of visible results. Godly love will keep us going with a positive, cheerful approach and with the hope that some will listen to the message and learn the truth. On the other hand, you may have lived with an unbelieving mate for many years. Godly love never gives up hope that the unbeliever will one day accept the truth. Some have had to set a faithful example for ten, twenty or more years before the unbeliever has accepted the truth. Never give up hope. It is a fine complement to faithful service that will keep us happy and optimistic in the face of adversity.—Rom. 8:24, 25.
15. What has helped our brothers to remain firm under persecution?
15 Love “endures all things.” This aspect of love is especially essential in view of the words: “In fact, all those desiring to live with godly devotion in association with Christ Jesus will also be persecuted.” (2 Tim. 3:12) From the Colosseum of ancient Rome to the concentration camps of Nazi Germany, there has been no breaking in the integrity of the true Christian witnesses of Jehovah, despite having been “objects of hatred by all the nations.” (Matt. 24:9) More recently Communistic and dictatorial countries have taken stringent measures to exterminate Jehovah’s witnesses. These efforts, along with the less severe but equally hateful efforts of the democratic nations, have failed in their objective because love “endures all things.”
16. Name some areas in which love is sure to be a never-failing help.
16 But is it really possible that godly love can help us in all the ways we have discussed? Can it really help marriage partners to stay together, happily serving God? Can it help us to be optimistic in the face of adversity, unprovoked when mistreated, as well as unselfish and forgiving? Can it do all these things? Yes! “Love never fails.”
THE GODLY QUALITY OF HATE
17. Is hate compatible with the Christian personality?
17 You have seen the benefit of godly love, but do you know how to hate? The Bible psalmist did, and said: “O you lovers of Jehovah, hate what is bad.” Also, he said: “Do I not hate those who are intensely hating you, O Jehovah, and do I not feel a loathing for those revolting against you? With a complete hatred I do hate them. They have become to me real enemies.” (Ps. 97:10; 139:21, 22) These very strong words are an expression of godly hate, and you too must have this quality to be pleasing to God.
18. How is godly hate a protection? Illustrate.
18 Hate causes a feeling of disgust to well up inside you. You loathe, abhor, despise the object of your hatred. The very thought of it makes you recoil. When the wife of his master tempted, begged and even grabbed hold of Joseph for immoral purposes, he did not have to stop and try to reason out what he should do. A moment of hesitation could have meant ruining his relationship with Jehovah. He simply ran. His hatred of what was bad triggered an automatic reaction and protected his good conscience with God. (Gen. 39:7-12) Likewise today, as hatred separates people, godly hate will separate you from wrongdoing.
19. What are some of the things God hates, and how do you view them?
19 Why not ask yourself how you personally feel about the things that are detestable to Jehovah? “There are six things that Jehovah does hate; yes, seven are things detestable to his soul: lofty eyes, a false tongue, and hands that are shedding innocent blood, a heart fabricating hurtful schemes, feet that are in a hurry to run to badness, a false witness that launches forth lies, and anyone sending forth contentions among brothers.” (Prov. 6:16-19) Your reaction to these things is a measure of your godly hate.
20. Whom must we never hate? Why?
20 Godly hatred never has as its object our Christian brothers, no matter how imperfect. The apostle John said: “Everyone who hates his brother is a manslayer, and you know that no manslayer has everlasting life remaining in him.” (1 John 3:15) Even though they have been involved in serious wrongdoing, we show compassion and mercy to our Christian brothers. If repentant wrongdoers are allowed to remain in the congregation by God, then we should also accept them.—Matt. 18:18.
21. How is godly hatred expressed?
21 Godly hatred is intolerant of what is evil. This does not mean that Christians use physical force to strike out against false religion or corrupt governments, for they realize that this is something God has reserved for himself. A Christian’s hatred of such things is demonstrated by his zeal to tell others what God’s Word says about the time when God’s kingdom will be the only government ruling this earth. Godly hatred is further characterized by a feeling of contempt toward such things as lying, stealing, immorality. A Christian’s conversation, way of life and choice of entertainment leave no question as to his stand on these matters.—Eph. 5:3-5.
22. Why is it vital to practice the all-important godly qualities of love and hate?
22 Now is the time to cultivate fully the godly qualities of love and hate. Loving the things Jehovah loves and hating the things Jehovah hates will protect us against the practices of this wicked world. The godly quality of love is a powerful force for right. The godly quality of hate is a protection against wrongdoing and it helps us to continue walking in Jehovah’s way. How genuine is our love and our hate? The value and worth of our whole life can be measured by our answer.