Evangelist, Chouteau Hills Church of Christ
In Galatians 5, the apostle Paul contrasted the works of the flesh with the fruit of the Spirit. Works of the flesh are things that man does under Satan's influence. The fruit of the Spirit is the result of giving up fleshly desires and submitting to the will of God. When we read through the lists, we find that hatred is one of the works of the flesh. Hatred is usually connected with having too much concern for self. As people interact with others, there is often a conflict of interest. Without God's influence, a person is liable to respond to other people with hatred.
However, in verses 22-23 of Galatians 5, Paul writes, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.” This is how a person will respond to others, if he is influenced by God's word. Such a response eliminates a lot of unhappiness.
In Matthew 5:43-45, Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said, You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.”
Jesus wants us to love our enemies, bless those who curse us, do good to those who hate us, and pray for those who mistreat us. We can see a great contrast between His influence and the influence of Satan.
Paul wrote in Romans 12:17-21, “Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, Vengeance is Mine, I will repay, says the Lord. Therefore if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
Again we see the result of God's influence. Rather than returning evil for evil, the Bible tells us to do our utmost to live peaceably with everyone. Man is usually not satisfied with getting even. When man seeks revenge, he usually wants to add some “interest” to it. If a person gets hit with 10 pounds of pressure, he wants to hit back with 12 pounds of pressure. That causes the other party involved to try to get even, and also do a little more. This creates a vicious, unending circle of harmful activities, and both parties suffer for it. So the best way is to just drop the matter and allow God to take care of it, because He is always just. He will always do the right thing.
In Luke 6:27-28, Jesus said, “But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you.” Along with further instructions, Jesus gives the “Golden Rule.” He tells us to treat others the way we would want them to treat us. He points out that even sinners love those who love them. So, loving only those who love you is nothing special.
Doing good only to those who do good to you places you in the same category as sinners. God's people are expected to be better and to do better. If we follow the teachings of the Bible, we will never treat people with hate, but we will always treat them with love and compassion. If we do that, Jesus promises us that our reward will be great. The apostle Paul says in Galatians 6:10, “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.”