I hate being a hateful person who hates people. A good friend of mine wrote to me today, “You know one of the reasons I want to be in heaven is I want to see what it feels like to have no sin in my life—I am not sure how we get rid of the hate and frustration…and I am sure my sin clouds my view of things. So I would love to know what it feels like to have no sin.”
It was the first time I’d ever thought of Heaven in those terms—as being sin-free living. To me Heaven always has meant seeing Jesus (yay), being healed of all of our diseases, getting along well with others, and being able to live in peace. But being completely free of sin hadn’t really entered my mind; not like that. I read my friend’s words and just started to weep. Yes. I want to be free from sin. I know I’m forgiven each time I ask God to cleanse me of my sin. And I know the Holy Spirit works in me to convict me of sin and help me to overcome it, but I can honestly say that I sin every day in word, thought, or deed. For example: I want my way above others’. I get my feelings hurt easily. I get angry. I exaggerate—which is really lying. And those are just a few of my sins of commission. I have hundreds of sins that are the sins of omission—not praying as I should, not reading the Word as I should, neglecting those I love in order to do something I want to do. But I struggle with frustration that leads to unforgiveness that can eventually lead to hate.
I know it’s wrong. I know it is as sinful as murder. Jesus said, “Anyone who hates another brother or sister is really a murderer at heart. And you know that murderers don’t have eternal life within them” I John 3:15. Yikes!
It is very clear to me that I am NOT to hate people. My Mom wouldn’t even let us say it when we were growing up. If my sister and I fought we’d get in so much trouble if we said, “I hate you!” It was absolutely forbidden. My Mom didn’t even let me say “I hate lima beans.” Because she said that if you get in the habit of saying the word, it’s easier to say about people. So yes, I should know better. I should be better. Larry Crabb writes, “True morality is loving as God does; it’s the freedom to love people I think I have reason to hate.” I really, really want that kind of true morality.
Corrie and Betsy ten Boom were prisoners in a Nazi concentration camp for helping Jews in German-occupied Holland. The women, well into their 50s, suffered unspeakable cruelty at the hands of the SS guards. Betsy was once severely beaten by a prison guard for daring to speak to the guard while working. The beating eventually led to Betsy’s death. Betsy’s words to Corrie after the beating, “Don’t hate, Corrie, never hate.” If Corrie ten Boom wasn’t allowed to hate a Nazi prison guard who beat her sister to death, then why do I think I have the right to hate a brother or sister? I don’t. The simple truth is that God asks me to forgive others just as He has forgiven me. And then He tells me that He will give me a Helper—the Holy Spirit—to do the things that bring freedom from this hate; things that bring freedom to my life. I love Corrie’s prayer as she struggled with the hatred in her heart, “Lord I can’t let go of it. Take this hate out of my life and put a love in its place. Jesus there are many things I do not understand. Please do not let me go mad in this place walking about on my own. You know what I am Savior. Please hide me in the center of Your will.”
You know what I am Savior. I love these words. Jesus knows me in all my weakness and in all my sin. He knows me and He promises to cleanse me, free me; Jesus will take hate out of my heart and put His love in its place and He will keep me from walking about on my own and hide me in the center of His will. All I have to do is ask and surrender. Peace.