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WHERE’S THE LOVE? Wrestling with Scripture #21

Updated: Mar 4

A Christian friend was asked recently if she thought God was angry with the horrible things happening in the world today. She wasn’t sure how to respond because she believes God is a loving God, and rightly so, who calls us to put away anger and hatred. Her hesitation is understandable as more and more churches (and even Super Bowl ads!) emphasize the importance of loving one another—often to the exclusion of God’s other attributes.


And we might well ask if this is so wrong. After all, God’s love is undeniable. He epitomizes the fruit of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5:22, and it’s no accident that love is the first gift mentioned. (“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.”)  Jesus explained that the two greatest commandments are: “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart …” and “…You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt 22:37,39).


Clearly, love is important to God, but He is also a God of justice, of holiness, and of truth. These qualities make it impossible for Him to ignore or condone any form of evil. Scripture says, “the Lord is gracious and full of compassion, slow to anger and great in mercy” (Psalm 145:8), but if He left sin unpunished indefinitely, He would no longer be perfectly just, holy, or faithful.


The OT records countless instances of God pouring out judgment and wrath on the wickedness of Israel and its pagan neighbors. Sin is a serious affront to a Holy God because He is passionate for His name and for His glory. Consider Deuteronomy 4:24, “For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God,” and Isaiah 48:9, “For the sake of my Name, I have delayed my wrath …”  Scripture plainly teaches that righteous anger is not incompatible with God’s perfect character.


But, what about hatred? Can a loving God also hate? According to Proverbs 6:16-19: “These are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to Him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.” (Notice how these condemned characteristics are the antitheses of the traits that merit blessings in the Beatitudes we just studied.)


If we need more convincing, Ecclesiastes 3:8 states there is “… a time to love and a time to hate,” Psalm 97:10 urges, “Hate evil, you who love the Lord ...” and Amos 5:15 teaches, “Hate evil, love good…”


I’ve heard many insist that Jesus did away with the angry, sometimes harsh-sounding God of the Old Testament, but Scripture is clear that God is perfect, eternal, and, therefore, unchanging. Consider Malachi 3:6, “I am the Lord, I change not,” or the NT promises that Jesus [God] is the same, “yesterday, today, and forever” (Heb 13:8), and that every good and perfect gift comes from God “… with whom can be no variation or shadow due to change” (James 1:17). Clearly, the God who displays righteous anger in the OT is the same God who commends peace and love in the New.


And He still hates sin. The Apostle Paul says of God, “Just as it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated” (Rom 9:13) and teaches “Let love be without hypocrisy; Abhor [hate] what is evil; cling to what is good” (Rom 12:9). And in Revelation 2:6, Jesus Himself declares, “Yet this you do have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolatians, which I also hate.”


Even though God hates evil and expects us to do likewise, He warns that “Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer …” (1 John 3:15) and “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar …” (1 John 4:20). Jesus sets the standard even higher in Matthew 5:44, teaching that we are to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us.


How do we hate what God hates and still show love to our enemies? The churchy sounding mantra—"Love the sinner, hate the sin”—has become almost cliché but strikes close to the truth. Although the statement is often ridiculed as hypocritical by unbelievers, God’s Word calls us to follow Jesus in this challenging task. He came to seek and save the lost. He did not hate unbelievers—He hated their sin. He loved, healed, and shared the Good News with the religious and the irreligious—but He also commanded each of them to “Go, and sin no more.”


If we love God, we must hate injustice, violence, and cruelty. Lies, gossip, and immorality grieve God and should stir righteousness indignation within us. Although it’s Biblical to be angry in the face of evil and ungodly behavior, rest assured that, in a world full of self-love and depravity, we will be called hatemongers for standing on Biblical standards of righteousness by those who think their desires and actions are synonymous with who they are.  


But we should never reciprocate with hate toward people in bondage to sin. Remember that unbelievers have been deceived by the Evil One’s lies. They are hostages, prisoners in the spiritual war between good and evil. Held behind enemy lines, the lost cannot free themselves from the darkness. Jesus is their only hope for rescue.


To truly love others, we must care enough to gently explain the seriousness of sin and to share God’s plan for redemption—always in a way that glorifies our King and advances His Kingdom.


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1 Comment

Jeanell Hoffmann
Jeanell Hoffmann
Feb 20

This certainly is thought-provoking. I believe the 10 commandments, so it's hard for me to comprehend cruelty. I agree that it is a war with Satan, a struggle every day. We have to turn our cheek to evil. I don't try to question God, I just believe. Recently, I've told myself to pray for others that treat me poorly. I ask God to forgive them, and hope that they will come to accept Jesus as their savior. While I try to avoid people who cause me stress and pain, I also hope I can show them kindness by my actions. Be grateful, not hateful, and know that God is my support and Jesus is my savior. 💓 Thank you Laurie.

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