Hate. It’s such a strong word. We use it to express our extreme and intense dislike, disgust or repulsion for just about anything. I hate broccoli. I hate traffic. I hate those shoes. I hate Mondays.
We’re so liberal with that word, using it to describe our feelings on any given subject. And while it’s not the best choice of words, I suppose it’s ok to use to convey strong feelings about things and situations.
As followers of Jesus, most of us would never use hate to describe how we feel about a person we know, regardless of how intense our feelings are. Whether it’s a neighbor, co-worker, family member or someone we associate with occasionally – we choose other words that are far less harsh.
But, we aren’t so generous with people we have no direct connection to. Like political figures. Celebrities. Performers. Telemarketers. We have no problem professing our extreme and intense dislike, disgust or repulsion for them. And while we may not use the word “hate”, could it be possible that hate is at the root of what we do say?
Somehow in our mind these people aren’t quite real because all we see is their persona – the image they project. We don’t see them as an individual person. And because we have depersonalized them, we don’t see them as someone who has feelings, fears, insecurities and weaknesses. And as a result, we will say (tweet!) things about them that we would never say to any person we have even the weakest connection to. We’ll call them names. We’ll criticize. We’ll nitpick. We’ll just be plain mean.
And since we don’t think they will ever know what we say about them – we think it doesn’t matter.
But it does matter. Every word. Jesus said in Matthew 12:36 that we must give an account on judgment day for every idle word you speak. The word “idle” in the original Greek is the word argos and one of its meanings is “injurious”. So not only will we account for every thoughtless, careless and unprofitable word – we’ll also report on our words that were damaging to another. Words that were hurtful. Words that were expressions of extreme and intense dislike, disgust or repulsion. Words of hate.
And not only are we held accountable for those words – but we are also accountable for the thoughts behind them. Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:22 But I say, if you are even angry with someone, you are subject to judgment! If you call someone an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the court. And if you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell.
What we think about others – even those we don’t actually know – matters. It’s a reflection of the condition of our heart. It’s a barometer for what’s going on inside of us. And it’s the foundation for the words that flow from our mouths.
I think our thoughts and words about people are important to Abba because nothing is more valuable and precious to Him than people. Humans are His greatest creation, His prized treasure, the object of His deepest affections. And the words He speaks to every person are words of love, encouragement, restoration and healing. His desire is that our words would be like His, instruments of grace and mercy.
I want to become very uncomfortable with unloving thoughts and words about anyone, even those high-profile, political, not-anything-like-me, celebrity types. I want to remember that He is jealous for them and protective of them and I should be too. I want His love for all people to grow in me and overflow in my speech and actions.