What to Do About the Haters?
"You're familiar with the old written law, 'Love your friend,' and its unwritten companion, 'Hate your enemy.' I'm challenging that. I'm telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best – the sun to warm and the rain to nourish – to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that. In a word, what I'm saying is, Grow up. You're kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you." Matthew 5:43-48, The Message
So, who’s been hating on your life? Someone making your life miserable? Giving you a hard time? Twisting the story to fit their agenda? What are we to do with haters? Hate back? Gossip? Spread rumors? Toilet paper their yard?
We live in a culture where “the love of many has grown cold….” (Matthew 24:12, NKJV) It’s evident in the political arena, competitive sports, among families, in business ethics and sadly – in some cases – even in church life. We seem to be living in days the Spirit inspired the Apostle Paul to write about when he told Timothy, “But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God – having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.” (2 Timothy 3:1-5, NIV)
So, how do we handle haters when Jesus told us to love, pray and be generous, and the Apostle Paul told us to have nothing to do with such people?
Love, Pray and Be Generous: What did Jesus tell us to do with haters? Jesus always tells us to do the exact opposite of conventional wisdom. God’s ways are polar opposite to the flesh! He says if we want to be exalted, promoted and moved up to first chair – we must humble ourselves. He tells us the way to receive more, is by giving more. He tells us the route to being first, is to be last. He said the way to treat haters, is with love!
Have you done that lately? Been gracious towards someone who hurt you deeply? Been generous in your words or in sending an “out-of-the-blue” gift to someone who has turned on you? Jesus wants us to be those kinds of people. How about prayer? Have you prayed for your enemies lately?
Perhaps you could pray something like this, “Father…I lift up everyone I can think of who might be a hater and have something against me. I lift up everyone I can think of who dislikes me; everyone who might be jealous, angry, bitter or critical of me; everyone who could be spreading rumors, lies or gossip about me. I lift up everyone by name that – for whatever reason – might be a hater. Lord, I lift up every person who has hurt me, harmed me, given me a hard time, cut me deeply, lied about me and justified their words or behavior – knowingly or unknowingly – (go ahead name ‘em). Father, today I choose to love them, to forgive them, to be generous towards them and to pray for them. I pray You bless them and reveal more of Your goodness to them. I pray You encourage them, strengthen them and bless them with every bit of revelation they need to live the life You have called them to live – blessed and favored in Jesus’ Name. Amen.”
Have Nothing to Do With Such People: How do we deal with the type of haters described in 2 Timothy 3? While we are to love, pray and be generous towards people, the Spirit also lets us know that we are to have nothing to do with such people. We are not obligated to spend time or associate with such people. It’s an interesting dichotomy. Perhaps one of the best ways to understand this whole concept is by understanding that we don’t have to “like” everyone we “love.” When it comes to some haters, the Lord protects us by letting us know that we need to distance ourselves from them. We can still love them (even if we don’t particularly like them or their behavior) by praying for God’s very best for them. This doesn’t mean that we have to become best friends and hang out. It might mean that we are to have nothing to do with them on a personal level. Yet, we are to love them, pray for them and want God’s generous mercy, grace and favor to be theirs!
Have you had to do this with some of the haters in your world? Sometimes, this is the healthiest thing you can do for all parties.
If you’re dealing with difficult people, dysfunctional relationships, people that don’t “get it,” or flat out enemies – now you know what to do about haters! Let’s love, pray, be generous…and when necessary have nothing to do with such people.
Say It: “Father, today I choose to love, be generous towards and pray for everyone I can think of who might be a hater and have something against me. I lift up anyone who might be angry, bitter, jealous, envious or critical of me; anyone who could be spreading rumors, lies or gossip about me. Lord, I lift up every person who has hurt me, harmed me, given me a hard time, cut me deeply, lied about me and justified their words or behavior – knowingly or unknowingly. I lift up everyone by name that – for whatever reason – might be a hater (go ahead name ‘em). Father, today I pray You bless them and reveal more of Your goodness to them. I pray You encourage them, strengthen them and bless them with every bit of revelation they need to live the life You have called them to live – blessed and favored. Father, I also thank You for protecting me. It’s liberating to know that I don’t have to ‘like’ everyone I love. I thank You that by Your design, there are some haters that You want me to have nothing to do with. I will love them from afar with my prayers. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.”
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