Week of July 14th

In the process of transforming our character, one of the most challenging changes in our lives is overcoming hate.  There are many different symptoms of hate:  fear, prejudice, anger, anxiety, insecurity, bitterness, and more.  But when we encounter God’s grace, it recomposes everything – how we look at life; how we look at others; how we look at ourselves.  Here are some passages to teach us about dealing with hatred.  

PRAYER:  O God, you became human in Jesus to reveal the alternative to hatred:  the grace of self-sacrifice.  Through the cross I can be free to forgive and love others.  Fill me with your Spirit that others may be set free in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

MONDAY- Genesis 4:1-16

Hatred began early in the human condition.  In this story Cain’s hatred led to the murder of his brother, Abel.  But with whom was Cain really angry?  It wasn’t Abel.  We do not know the reasons for God’s rejection of Cain’s offering.  But the writer makes it clear that Cain had a choice. He could have made things right with God, but he chose to make Abel the target for his violence. And it had long ranging consequences.  So, is Cain his brother’s keeper?  He is his brother’s brother.  Who is your brother/sister?  How does your relationship with God shape the way you relate to others?

TUESDAY-  Genesis 37:1-11

This is another story of bitter enmity. Joseph dreamed that someday he would rule over his brothers, even though he was one of the youngest.  His brothers resented that attitude and the favoritism his father showered upon him.  It led to serious violence.  But through it all, Joseph grew into a spiritual leader.  How?  Check out Genesis 50:20.  He could have returned hatred for hatred, but he chose another path.  What is an alternative to hate?

Wednesday – Luke 23:32-49

This is part of the story of Jesus’ crucifixion.  It was a violent act, not only intended to kill a man but to terrorize the conquered people. It was designed to break the spirit of the convicted man as well as all of his countrymen.  But Jesus responded in a unique way.  Instead of breaking his spirit, he offered a gift to his tormentors.  What was it?  How did that affect the soldiers watching him?  And the crowds?  How is Jesus an example for us today? 

Thursday – Acts 7:54-60

There is no scholarship that suggests Stephen knew Jesus face to face; but he certainly was filled with the Spirit of Jesus.  The religious authorities were enraged with Stephen.  His message about Jesus threatened to undo all they stood for. Usually, the basis for hatred is anger, and the basis for anger is insecurity.  One feels threatened – whether the threat is real or imagined. But Stephen, though he was in real danger, chose a different response.  How did Stephen answer?

Friday – 1 John 2:9-11 and 1 John 4:19-21

Some people think serving God gives them permission to disrespect other people.  Not so, according to these verses.  We cannot love God if we do not love others.  Love for God will inevitably and instinctively lead us to love others.  It is part of the transformation God’s Spirit works within us.  When we are confident of God’s grace for us, we are free to offer grace for others – even those who are just as sinful as we are!  Who irritates you the most?  How will God work through you to love them a little more today?

Saturday – Galatians 5:16-26

The Apostle Paul saw this as a battle between the fallen human nature (flesh) and the power and presence of God (spirit).  The characteristic of fallen human nature is hatred; hatred of others, hatred of God, and even hatred of self.  But Jesus came to offer us the power and presence of God’s Spirit that can offer an alternative: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, and self-control.  What is the alternative to hatred?  In what ways will you encounter God’s power and presence today?