I froze in horror, humiliated, torn between anger and tears. My leader stared, eyes wide open, deer-in-the-headlights style. Someone had just made it abundantly clear they hated me—right in the middle of a room packed with people. The entire group stilled, mouths agape.
I don’t know why they hated me; they chose to spew their hatred out for all to hear, without coming to me first about the reason. I’m not aware of anything I did that would have caused their animosity. But it was there, nonetheless, and I was in shock.
The leader did his best to diffuse the situation and get the meeting back on track, but I heard none of it. As soon as our session was over, I left as quickly as I could. In a daze, I tried to think my way through the situation. How should I handle it?
I remembered Jesus said that if someone hates me, I am to pray for them. In Luke 6:27-28 (NJKV), he 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.”
Also, Matthew 5:44-45 (NJKV) says, “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.”
So that’s where I started. On the way home that night, I began to pray. I didn’t really know how to pray about it, and I was so angry that my true heart attitude was “Lord, smite him…”; but I began to pray anyway.
Honestly, looking back, I see that my first prayers were from a heart attitude of “Oh yeah? I’ll show you. I’ll pray for you to be blessed, because I’m doing what the Lord wants me to do, and you’re not.”
Horrible, I know. What terrible motives. (Lord, I’m sorry. Am I the only one who has ever done that?) But I wasn’t cursing this man. Even in my confusion and hurt, I was genuinely concerned for his well-being—despite my impure motives.
Things changed in the morning, though. After a good night’s sleep, I went to the Lord about situation … and when I did, I saw things differently. I understood the following:
I could pray for the person who hated me because God loves him just as much as he loves me.
This man is the beloved child of the Father. I see God as my Papa, and God’s heart beats for him, just as it does for me. My Father loves him with an everlasting love, and he’s working in that man’s life just like he is working in mine.
Does someone hate you? If so, take the time to realize God earnestly loves and yearns after that person, just as he loves and yearns after you.
Because God loves the man who hates me, his heart is grieved too.
Seeing things from God’s perspective changed my attitude. When I realized that Jesus saw the situation—and that it grieved him to see that man act, think, and talk the way he did—then suddenly my motives changed. No longer was I praying out of an “I’ll show you, holier than thou” attitude. Instead, I was praying out of my love for Jesus.
I was able to pray, “Daddy God, please bless that man and heal his heart, because this is wounding Jesus, and I can’t stand for Jesus to be wounded anymore. Oh God, please overwhelm this person with your love for them.”
It became about Jesus, not about me. And in reality, isn’t that what every sin and wrong response is about? Sin is not directed at me; it’s simply rebellion against the lordship of Jesus. According to Ephesians 6:12, people are never our enemy.
If you are also dealing with someone who hates you, ask the Holy Spirit to help you pray in sympathy with Jesus. Ask him to change that person’s heart so that Jesus is no longer grieved by their sin. God responds to prayers like that.
I realized that I am not accountable for someone else’s actions, but I am accountable for responding rightly.
I won’t answer to God for someone else’s actions, but I will answer for my own. My response is between me and God, and I want to walk rightly before God. I desperately desire to maintain clean hands and a pure heart. So I pray, Dear Father, help me to respond rightly.
The same principle applies to all of us. If someone has treated you badly, they were wrong to do so. However, their wrong doesn’t make it okay for you to respond sinfully. Isn’t it better to walk before God purely? To respond in righteousness, peace, and love?
In the long run, our own actions are the only things for which we are responsible. We cannot change other people’s hearts, but we can trust that our good, good Father will take care of the rest if we will just obey him.
We may not know how the situations we encounter will turn out, but we can be assured that Father God will handle it. We can take shelter under his wings and rest in him, no matter how the enemy arrays himself against us.
Beloved reader, if you are dealing with someone who hates you, I pray you will not repeat the same mistakes I made. Instead of the “Smite him, God” prayer that was foremost in my heart, I encourage you to respond rightly. Remember that God loves the person who hates you. He is grieved by their sin, so we can pray in sympathy with Jesus. And no matter what, please don’t let sin rob you of clean hands and a pure heart.
Are you dealing with someone who hates you? If so, do any of these things resonate with you today? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!