Looking back upon my youth, I can only recall one specific time that I ever uttered the words “I hate you” to someone else. Sadly, that someone else happened to be my own mother. I don’t recall the reason why I said it (though I’m sure it was a foolish one), but I do remember I was probably less than 8 years old. I guess you could chalk it up to the ignorance and idiocy of my youth as I didn’t quite understand nor recognize the sheer weight of those words, let alone their true meaning. My mother was quick to respond in kind with those very words as she left me in my state of anger. I don’t remember if I ever officially apologized for that incident, or if I told her I loved her afterwards, but I do remember the shame and remorse that I felt when I made the attempt to do so.
Since then, the only time I recall spewing hatred again was actually towards myself. Admittedly, I did get in some pretty heated arguments with my ex, but I don’t think I ever resorted to using those words against her. I’m pretty sure I was pretty consistent with the attacks I would launch upon myself. Truthfully, there’s very little to like about me given that I know myself best. I know that I could be so much more and do so much more for the Lord and I can’t say that I hate my failures and shortcomings enough given that they still occur. I know I’m only human and that I still have a sinful nature, and my actions and behavior both continue to reveal that my hatred of sin just isn’t strong enough. That my grip on the things of this world just isn’t weak enough. Am I too complacent? Oh Lord, that I may my life be crucified with Christ. May I be dead to sin and alive to Christ. May I put to death the old self and put on the new. Am I being too hard on myself? Maybe. Or perhaps I’m not being hard enough on myself.
As for being a recipient of hate, I can think of a few who may have felt that way towards me, but I don’t think I ever was told that directly. I was often the “joker” among my group of friends and was shamelessly cruel in my remarks about people if it would draw out the laughter from my peers. I was quite the verbal bully in my primary and secondary school days and if any hated me, it was probably then and it was definitely justified. I still remember the names of those I mocked to this day and actually reached out to them recently in attempts to apologize for my past mistakes. Long overdue, not praise worthy at all, and I only hope to reconcile with them for the sake of the gospel, His honor, and my reputation as one now redeemed. I can only pray that my testimony correctly points to Christ as my redeemer, my sanctification, confessing my sin and clothed in His righteousness.
I shouldn’t be surprised by the words in Titus 3:3 that identifies us as (formerly) being “hateful, hating one another.” I certainly was hateful, as in one who was “worthy” of being hated. Though this human nature is still mine and is certainly still evident in my life, I can only pray that He has caused enough change in my life that others would notice the change and that I can simply point to the Savior. I pray that the traits identified in this verse can’t be associated with me, but I really need a lot of work nonetheless.
There is actually one more recent occurrence where an individual clearly identified to me the existence of their hatred towards me. This particular incident was a dagger plunged deep into my heart. I never felt a hate so personal before. I’ve never felt the pain of hatred so strongly until this day.
“I hate you.”
These words were muttered to me by my own flesh and blood… By one whom I’ve cared for and nurtured. By one whom I’ve spoiled and pampered. By one whom I’ve loved and cherished. By one whom I’ve neglected and failed.
My heart is broken. I forgot just how powerful an enemy sin really is. I cried out to the Lord today. Tears flowed as I pleaded. I know it’s not up to me. I know I can only plant and water. But I also know that I haven’t planted carefully enough. I haven’t watered consistently enough. I know it’s ultimately up to Him and the work of the Spirit to lift the veil, soften the heart, and cause the growth. I know it’s ultimately up to His grace and His mercy. Yet, what have I been doing with my life? Why haven’t you been bold enough? Why haven’t you opened your mouth to share the good news? If you’re so moved and in love with the Lord, and you know His love is like no other, and you know you’re free indeed and of the joys and pleasures forevermore in Christ, why are you so hesitant to share it with others???
I’ve failed the calling given to parents to raise them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. I’ve failed to be the salt and the light on this earth. I’ve failed to put the lamp on the lamp stand. I’ve failed to show the love of God by failing to instruct, failing to teach, failing to plead, failing to speak, failing to pray…
Help me, Lord. Help me to not be faint of heart. Help me to not lose hope. I need Your grace Lord. Grant me the strength to have the faith in You. I know it’s not too late and I know You are mighty to save. I know no one can be so far gone as to be unable to save. You’ve taken the one of the worst of sinners and made him to be one of Your own apostles and greatest missionaries. I pray that You do Your work. The work only You can do. Greater than any of the miracles of the distant past is the work only You can do on the human heart.
All my hope is in You. Sin is strong, but You are stronger and You can break the chains of sin and death. All glory to You. You are the Light of the world. You are the Way and the Truth. Please, please, please reveal Yourself in the heart of the one who needs to see their sin and depravity and a their need of a Savior. Salvation belongs to You alone, Lord. Win another soul for Your glory and for Your name.
Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my salvation and my God.