Should we respond to hate with more hate?

Should we respond to hate with more hate?  I dare say, most people know the answer to this question.  It’s generic.  It doesn’t specify what kind of hate.  So chances are, most people would say “no, we should not respond to hate with more hate”.  The problem is, in the back of our minds, there’s an “unless it’s __“.  If we’re talking about the specific kind of hate that pushes our buttons – the answer is quite different.  Even if we don’t like to acknowledge it.

Responding to hate with more hate

A few years ago, I wrote Say bad things about me and I’ll destroy you.  It was about Donald Trump’s response to people who say bad things about him.  And how he admits that he does respond to hate with more hate.  It’s also about how, in spite of that, lots of Evangelical Christians support him.  In fact, so many support him that they were the difference between him winning and losing the last election.

Should we respond to hate with more hate?

Shortly after that, I went to the other side of the political aisle.

It was from

An article from conservativereview.com.  It was titled Maxine Waters gets her wish: Antifa mob ATTACKS Charlie Kirk and Candace Owens.  It included the following:

I know – it’s conservative reporting on something that came out of a comment from a liberal.  I’m using it partly because it’s the one that came up on google.com this morning. I’m also using it because it makes my point quite nicely.  It shows exactly why we should not respond to hate with more hate.

In case you don’t remember, there was an event in Los Angeles that we’ll go back to.  Maxine Waters said this:

“If you think we’re rallying now you ain’t seen nothing yet,” Waters said at a rally in Los Angeles in June. “If you see anybody from that [Trump] Cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gasoline station, you get out and you create a crowd and you push back on them, and you tell them they’re not welcome anymore, anywhere.”

As you probably know, this wasn’t the first arrow sent flying.  I don’t have the time, energy, or space to go back and recount everything that both of these people have said.  So I’m just backing up one month to this one event.  We saw in Say bad things about me and I’ll destroy you that Trump has no issue at all with upping the ante in a war of words.  The same appears to be true for Maxine Waters.

There is at least one other thing the two have in common.  Donald Trump claims to be Presbyterian, according to an interview that CNN did with his pastor.  Maxine Waters claims to be Christian, according to pewforum.org.   No denomination for her – just Christian.  So both claim to be Christian.

Respond to hate with more hate – is this Christian?

There’s no denying what we’ve all seen/heard/read about.  The behavior of responding to hate with hate is something they both share.  These days, sadly, it’s almost the norm. So this begs the question – is this Christian behavior?  Should two Christians be responding to each other the way they are?

As you read this, since it’s based on and updated from something written a few ago, I have one request as you read it. Please, keep in mind that this is about more than Donald Trump and Maxine Waters. Yes, both are still in politics. But, the vitriol/hatred has spread so far beyond them and a relative few that got this going back then. So their names are there – but the list today is so much longer.

For that matter, should a Christian be treating anyone this way?

Luke records Jesus as saying the following:

Lk 6:22 Blessed are you when men hate you,
when they exclude you and insult you
and reject your name as evil,

But I don’t think either Trump or Waters is engaged in this escalating “hate and more hate” dialogue to bless each other.  Besides, you may have noticed the comma at the end of the verse.  That’s because it’s not really the end of the verse. 

Here’s the whole verse:

Lk 6:22 Blessed are you when men hate you,
when they exclude you and insult you
and reject your name as evil,
because of the Son of Man.

It’s pretty obvious from the context of what’s been going on between them that none of this has to do with Jesus. 

However, it’s even worse than it sounds. Remember, this verse is from Luke. The doctor. Someone who tends to look more at the way-of-life side of what Jesus taught. But we’re talking about people who claim to be Christians. Therefore, we should be looking at what Matthew recorded.

Matthew was more into the religious message from Jesus. And when we look at Matthew’s equivalent to the verse from Luke, we’re into what we call The Beatitudes.

Matthew’s writing of that verse is:

Mt 5:11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

As bad as that may seem though, it’s still worse.

The Beatitudes, as the adjacent info box says, is like Jesus’ manifesto on how we Christians should live.

Furthermore, it’s a list of things that we should endlessly cycle through, constantly growing in our faith and our ability to use the strength of God, via the Holy Spirit, to be able to accomplish the things Jesus taught.

I encourage you to go through the series to learn about it.

The Beatitudes should be a way of life for Christians. Therefore, it’s critical for us to know and to try to follow. But even for non-Christians, they tell us what we should be like, as opposed to what we sometimes/oftentimes really are like. What God’s objectives for us are, as opposed to what we sometimes make them look like.

I supposed I could end here. I’ve certainly made a point that we shouldn’t behave like they do. Like too many of us do.

But there’s more. So let’s keep going.

Should we respond to hate with love?

If we shouldn’t respond to hate with more hate, then should we respond to hate with love? 

But there’s a problem with that.  Jesus spells it out quite nicely just a few verses later in Luke’s gospel.

Love for Enemies – Luke

6:29, 30 pp — Mt 5:39-42

Lk 6:27 “But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29 If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. 30 Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. 31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.

Could this get any clearer?  Love your enemies.  Do good to your enemies.  Bless your enemies.  If your enemy strikes you – physically or with words – turn the other cheek.  Both Trump and Waters failed to do these things.  Even though both claim to be Christian. Lots of us fail to do this. Even though we claim to be Christians.

However, there is one thing from the list that they both seem to be pretty good at: do to others as you would have them do to you.  Strike back.  Escalate the war of words.  The problem is, when that one verse is taken out of context, as I just did, it misses the whole point.  We’re supposed to want others to be good to us – and we show that by the example of being good to others, even if they hate us.  But that’s not happening here.

No, Christians aren’t perfect. We fail from time to time. But when we’re proud of activities that Jesus would say are failures, I have to ask – are we still Christians? Maybe in our own minds. But then, we aren’t the judge. God is. We should at least be trying to get better. And we should at least be sorry and ask forgiveness when we do fail.

Lk 6:32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ do that. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ lend to ‘sinners,’ expecting to be repaid in full. 35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”

The last portion of the passage is even worse.  Jesus expected that even the worst of people would love the ones who loved them.  But is even that happening here? 

The next portion is going to be somewhat indirect, but I believe still very applicable.

Jesus says Christians should be different from what He terms the “sinners”.  By that He meant what we see below:

268 ἁμαρτωλός [hamartolos /ham·ar·to·los/] adj. From 264; TDNT 1:317; TDNTA 51; GK 283; 47 occurrences; AV translates as “sinner” 43 times, and “sinful” four times. 1 devoted to sin, a sinner. 1A not free from sin. 1B pre-eminently sinful, especially wicked. 1B1 all wicked men. 1B2 specifically of men stained with certain definite vices or crimes. 1B2A tax collectors, heathen.  [1]Strong, J. (1995). Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon. Woodside Bible Fellowship.

Culturally, Jesus was talking about the worst of the worst.  Even the worst of the worst do good to those who do good to them.

Now, keep in mind that both Trump and Waters were elected to their respective offices.  The people who voted for them were doing so with the expectation that they were doing a good thing.  True – it was likely expected as good for both the person voting and for the person they voted for.  But still – it was doing a good thing.  In turn, Jesus says even the worst of the worst would then turn around and do good for the people who did good for them.  In this case, Jesus would be saying that Trump and Waters would be doing good for the people who voted for them.

Further, since both claim to be Christian, the expectation from what Jesus said is that both would be better than the worst of the worst.  The expectation would be that these two people would actually try to do what most politicians claim they’ll do, but I suspect very few actually even plan on trying.  Namely – they claim they will do good for the people who voted for them, as well as the people who voted against them.

Is that not a reasonable expectation from what Jesus said?

Let’s read Jesus’ words again.

Lk 6:32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ do that. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ lend to ‘sinners,’ expecting to be repaid in full. 35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back.

But – is that what happened?

How is anyone well served by this kind of thing going on between these two people?  Or anyone in elected office, for that matter.  This just happens to be the latest headline.  And has been for several years now.

Although, to be honest about the divisions in the world today, is that even possible? It makes living a Christian life and being a politician, for all practical purposes, impossible.

Should our leaders respond to hate with more hate?

Let’s make the title question more specific.  Should our leaders respond to hate with more hate?  Especially when those leaders claim to be Christian?

There’s a passage in the last chapter of Hebrews where the author writes about leaders.  Let’s take a look at it.

First passage on leaders from Hebrews

The passage is from the closing of the letter, with various thoughts in it. As such, the portion on leaders needs no additional context to understand what the author’s point is.

Concluding Exhortations


Heb 13:7 Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. 8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
… 

There are three points we need to examine:

  1. remember your leaders (who spoke the word of God to you)
  2. consider the outcome of their way of life
  3. imitate their faith

Remember your leaders

The leaders in question here, at the time of the first version of the article, are Donald Trump and Maxine Waters. 

But as I said, there are so many names that you can use here today. Have they, any of them, spoken the word of God to us?  Honestly, I don’t know if they’ve literally spoken the word of God. 

According to the Bible, our leaders are appointed by God. See the info box for more on that.

Some of our leaders claim to be Christian.  But their words don’t necessarily provide evidence related to the concerns items in Christianity and politics make strange bedfellows.

However, since they do claim to be Christians, they should be aware of something Jesus told His followers – today’s Christians:

Salt and Light

Mt 5:13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.

Mt 5:14 “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”

Therefore, whether or not actual words were said regarding God, their very lives are examples of how they feel about God. Since so many of our leaders claim to be Christian and are in Public Service, both should be very much aware of the responsibility they carry related to their public lives.  And yet, look what we have.\ these days.

And who knows, maybe it’s often/always been this way. But in an age where there are no secrets, everything eventually becomes public, and truth is irrelevant, maybe it’s just more obvious now.

consider the outcome of their way of life

We’ve seen the outcome of one part of their lives.  At least towards each other, they do not respond to hate with love.  They do respond to hate with more hate.  As we’ve also seen, this is in stark contrast to the way a Christian leader should behave.  That’s not just me saying it.  That’s from the very words spoken by Jesus.

Solomon wrote something that we should keep in mind here. And should always seek after.

Proverbs 3 – Further Benefits of Wisdom


Pr 3:13
Blessed is the man who finds wisdom,

the man who gains understanding,

Pr 3:14 for she is more profitable than silver
and yields better returns than gold.

Pr 3:15 She is more precious than rubies;
nothing you desire can compare with her.

Pr 3:16 Long life is in her right hand;
in her left hand are riches and honor.

Pr 3:17 Her ways are pleasant ways,
and all her paths are peace.

Pr 3:18 She is a tree of life to those who embrace her;
those who lay hold of her will be blessed.

In order to try to learn why God placed/allowed our leaders (to be) in their positions, wisdom is essential. That is, wisdom from God. Or, as church people like to call it, discernment.

Of course, that’s far easier said than done, because it’s really hard to get past our own biases and political beliefs.

Honestly, it’s an issue regardless of our preferred political party.

Or our country.

For instance, even though I’m in the U.S., I like to watch BBC News. The hot topic right now is Liz Truss resigning. Along with that is the possibility that Boris Johnson might stage a comeback. That is, a comeback from being ousted a few short months ago for not following the rules and then lying about it. UK politics appears to be turning into a carbon copy of U.S. politics.

Where’s the wisdom, discernment, or whatever we care to call it? Our leaders’ ways of life are rather shocking. But then, so are our own ways of life.

imitate their faith

Imitate their faith sounds like we should behave like them.  But that’s not really the case.  We can’t take the phrase out of context.  Put all together, it means remember what these two are like – consider their lives – and then decide whether or not to imitate or not.  That view is also held by Wuest’s Word Studies in the Greek New Testament.  The context is different, in that this book was written to Jews in the early years of the church.  But the concepts hold true for any Christian when we view our leaders.

13:7) The writer is still mindful of the danger which many of the Jewish recipients of this book were in, namely, that of renouncing their professed faith in Messiah, and of returning to the abrogated sacrifices of Judaism. He exhorts them to remember those which have the rule over them. The word “remember” is mnemoneuo (μνεμονευο), “to be mindful of.” Here it means “to think of and feel for a person.” The exhortation is, “Remember, with a view to observing the admonitions of those who have the rule over you.” The word “follow” is the translation of mimnisko (μιμνισκο) “to imitate.” The word “considering” is anatheoreo (ἀναθεορεο) “to observe attentively.” The words “end of their conversation” are more clearly, “the outcome or issue of their manner of life.” The exhortation is to remember their deceased leaders, persons of such a nature that they spoke the Word of God to them (2:3, 4:2). Some of these had probably gone to heaven by way of martyrdom. They are urged to imitate their faith while they at the same time observe attentively the kind of lives they lived and the outcome and issue of their lives. They were to imitate their lives where the latter tallied with what they preached. Thus, they would be guarded against forsaking Messiah and going back to the temple sacrifices.  [2]Wuest, K. S. (1997). Wuest’s word studies from the Greek New Testament: for the English reader (Vol. 10, p. 235). Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.

The important part for us today is: They are urged to imitate their faith while they at the same time observe attentively the kind of lives they lived and the outcome and issue of their lives. They were to imitate their lives where the latter tallied with what they preached.

In this particular case, no matter what the professed Christian denomination of either Trump or Waters may be, they are not living out what they claim to believe.  Therefore, we are not to imitate them.  Rather, we should do what Jesus taught: respond to hate with love.

Conclusion – Should we respond to hate with more hate?

You may have noticed that there’s a phrase from the Luke quote above, from Love for Enemies, that I haven’t written about yet.  It’s this one:

pray for those who mistreat you

As a reminder, the whole paragraph is:

Lk 6:27 “But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29 If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. 30 Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. 31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.

Yes, pray for those who mistreat you was left out from when I was talking about our two political figures.

But you know what?  This passage – this entire article – also applies to those of us who don’t like the way our leaders behave.  We shouldn’t hate them, any more than they should hate each other.  I’m pretty sure they’re not praying for each other.  But we should pray for them.

Why should we pray for Donald Trump and Maxine Waters?  Because, as we’ve seen, they are mistreating us.  Whether we voted for them or not, since they are professed Christians holding a public office as a result of an election, they are mistreating us.  Yes, as a result of their actions and also the resulting failure to act on other important things, they are mistreating us.  And Jesus told us, pray for those who mistreat you.  

Don’t respond to hate with more hate.

Do respond to hate with love.  In fact, with more love than the hate that was shown.

Do pray for those who mistreat you – even, or especially, for our leaders who mistreat us.

References

References
1 Strong, J. (1995). Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon. Woodside Bible Fellowship.
2 Wuest, K. S. (1997). Wuest’s word studies from the Greek New Testament: for the English reader (Vol. 10, p. 235). Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.

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