Showing love to your haters may sound like something you’d hear on the radio, but the Bible started this conversation ages ago. In fact, Jesus Christ himself said that it’s more important to love your haters than it is to love your friends. Jesus was like, “Loving people who love you? Nah, that’s kid stuff. Showing love to your haters though?? Now that’s what’s up.” Clearly that’s my modern translation of the text, but you can read and interpret Matthew 5 for yourself.
The first few times I read that scripture I was so frustrated and confused. I thought, “God wants me to LOVE the people who HATE me?? HOW SWAY!?” Well, God led me to some answers in His Word and I’d like to share them with you.
How to Love Your Haters in 5 Steps
Step 1: Sit Down. Be Humble.
So you’re all in your feelings, because somebody treated you unlike the royal priesthood that you are? You mad because you out here serving David-with-a-sling realness, but they won’t put you in the game? You dropping knowledge—I mean nuggets of wisdom—and they not picking up what you putting down?!
The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world. I chose you to come out of the world, so it hates you.
John 15:19 NLT
Did you catch what Jesus said?? It’s not even about you. It’s about Jesus. Sit down. Take some time to collect yourself and process whatever complicated emotions show up. Be humble. There’s no need to puff up and wage war. Remember you are loved and valued by God Almighty. His great love for you is enough. Haters gonna hate. Do something counter-culture and truly Christ-like.
Step 2: Forgive Them
Y’all remember the Old Testament God who used to require every sacrifice under the sun INCLUDING your first born son, before He even considered your sad little apology? Well, you’re not the Almighty God. So you can’t demand that kind of submission or apology—not even when scales of justice tip in your favor. You know why? Because you are just as flawed as your haters. Don’t come for me—Jesus said it!
Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?”
“No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven!
Matthew 18:21-22 NLT
Seventy times seven though Jesus?? That is like level 3000 spiritual restraint and maturity. You’re not seeing this kind of forgiveness outside the kingdom of God! This kind of divinely-inspired forgiveness can only come from an act submission. And we already covered the fact that demanding submission or apology is not an option for us.
If your hater doesn’t seek forgiveness, then the act of submission falls to you. Submit to God’s will that we all do our part to live in peace. In order to do this we’ve got to dig deep and find a shared humanity in the people who offend us. If nothing else you can be motivated by the fact that God has already forgiven you for all the times you messed up. If God can forgive and forget your mistakes the least you can do is wipe the slate clean for your sibling in Christ.
Step 3: Call Them Out
It may seem out of order to forgive someone before you confront them, but you’ve got to remember we are approaching this God’s way. Learning how to love your haters is counter-intuitive. We’re not fighting fire with fire—we’re using love to conquer hate.
And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone. Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else.
1 Thessalonians 5:14-15 NIV
The Bible directs us to tell the truth in love and defend what’s right. That’s it. It doesn’t say make a 10 slide PowerPoint outlining a person’s each and every flaw. Don’t get carried away. If you have the opportunity to confront your haters and share your grievances, then prepare yourself to have a rational, constructive conversation and take this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. If you aren’t able to confront them, you can always talk to your Daddy in Heaven.
Having those tough conversations with God can serve as a great way to vent and talk out your issues. I like to think of it as calling into radio station WWJD. When I can’t speak to them directly, calling out my haters goes a little something like this:
I know it sounds silly—but it works for me! No matter how angry I am at the beginning of “the call,” I’m laughing and feeling better by the end of it. Don’t knock it ’til you try it.
Step 4: Show Them How It’s Done
Hurt people hurt people. If someone has been hateful or unloving to you, then it’s quite likely that they’ve experienced the same mistreatment. Hate is not an instinctual behavior. Hate is a contagious virus. Thankfully, God has shown us that the cure is love.
Love is seeing yourself and God in another person. To know someone, to see them and remember that Jesus cared enough to take their place on the cross, is to love them. Love levels the ground at the cross. Love comes to your level and lifts you up.
Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.
1 John 3:18 NIV
Are y’all reading this?? God just told everybody, “Don’t talk about it. BE ABOUT IT.” If you want to see more love and less hate in this world, then make it happen. Love is a verb. Go on and do it.
Step 5: Let God Handle The Rest
If you go through the steps above (process the pain of being hated on, forgive, confront and love on your haters), then you’ve done your part. You have successfully twirled on your haters. Now don’t let all your hard work go to waste.
Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, ‘I will take revenge; I will pay them back,’ says the LORD.
Romans 12:19 NLT
You ever have someone try to tell you how to do your job that you do everyday? Or have someone try to “help” you, but they just make the whole situation worse?? That’s what we look like trying to take matters into our own hands and exact revenge. We have to stop trying to play God.
I’m not talking about the adjustments you make to protect yourself from an abusive situation—that’s a wise and recommended move. I’m talking about making a hit list of people who hated on you. “An eye for an eye” mentality just leaves the whole world blind. God wants you to see yourself on the other side of hate. The best way to get there is learning how to love your haters. Sit back and watch God’s Glory shine on your life.
Moment of Truth
I have issues with confrontation and I struggle with Step 3 (Call Them Out). Too often I skip the confront my haters part and I just keep it between me and God. Prayer can be a therapeutic release, but in this case it keeps us from contributing to a positive change that is possible in another person’s life. It’s the coward’s way out and God calls us to be bold and courageous. Hopefully you’re walking the Word out better than I am on this one. And if you have any tips, please share your thoughts below.