There are a few things I'm just not a fan of: traffic jams, when somebody is going slow in the passing lane, bad coffee, and pigeons. Those are all things I really hate.
But when it comes to hating people, the Bible takes hatred very seriously (see Leviticus 19:17; Galatians 5:19-20). There are two kinds of hatred: one that is directed toward you and one that comes from within you. Today I want to look at the second kind.
In Luke 9, we read that Jesus and His disciples entered a Samaritan village, where the townspeople proceeded to reject Jesus. So James and John said, "'Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did?' But [Jesus] turned and rebuked them, and said, 'You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men's lives but to save them'" (vv. 54-56).
Now, keep in mind the historical context of this passage: there had been a centuries-long rivalry and prejudice between the Samaritans and the Jews. But talk about the Galilean Mafia. So how did Jesus handle James and John's hatred? And what do you do when there's hate in your own heart? There's a threefold approach:
1. Your words must be rebuked (see Revelation 3:19). Yes, rejecting Christ is sinful and shameful, but hating people for it is reprehensible. The disciples' words were destructive to the people God loves. So Jesus rebuked them—and your words must be as well if hateful speech is slipping out of your mouth.
2. Your attitude must be checked. James and John had Scripture in their heads—they knew that Elijah called down fire from heaven—but they had no love in their hearts. So even if they had the ability to call down fire from heaven, their attitude was all wrong. To Jesus, attitude is more important than aptitude. Your attitude is the rudder that controls everything in your life—what you say and what you do. So check your attitude when you're dealing with another person. Instead of viewing them as an inconvenience or a bad person, how about seeing them as an opportunity for you to grow?
3. Your prejudice must be surrendered to God. James and John were blinded by their prejudice from seeing what God's purpose was for the Samaritans: to save them (see 2 Peter 3:9). God's purpose for people always trumps our prejudice toward people.
In Acts 8, we find that a revival broke out in Samaria after John and Peter preached the gospel there. What would've happened had they nuked that village? There'd be no Samaritans to hear the gospel and be saved.
So start asking yourself, "Are my words, my attitude, or my prejudice standing in the way of God's purpose for someone else?" Whenever we meet someone, we tend to make snap judgments and size them up in our heads. How about we start stripping all that away and instead see them as a person for whom God has a purpose—to be saved?