Can Love Trump Hate?
Can love trump hate? We can’t fight hate with hate but that does not mean we should let hate bully and roll over us. There is a way to fight hate and that is with the power of a correcting kind of love. Today’s sermon focuses on a couple of familiar scriptures from Ecclesiastes 4
9 Two are better than one, Because they have a good reward for their labor. 10 For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, For he has no one to help him up.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 NKJV
Power in love – love trump hate
I had a dream recently with my former pastor, who is now deceased, in it – Rev. H. J. Taylor. The dream was not about him, but it was wonderful seeing him in this dream. In this dream, I recall that we were worshiping and having a wonderful time. Then the strangest thing happened – he called on me to do the altar call prayer. This was strange in the sense that the dream was seemingly taken place in the present, and I could feel myself wondering why he would call on me to do the altar call with older preachers present. I stepped to the podium, focused on what I wanted to pray about, and began to pray about all of the things currently going on in our community. When I say community, I want you to understand that I am not talking simply about the small local communities or even the church community. No, I am also focusing on the larger community that makes up our nation and also the community of mankind. You see, I feel that our community can be powerful but we do not know it or realize it because we are allowing hate to hold us back from achieving something wonderful. Can love trump hate?
My brother shared with me a story earlier in the week about a young man who was killed outside of a store in New York. After sharing the story with me, I needed to read and see what went on for myself. A good friend had also spoke to me about story and while speaking, she wondered, where was God’s protection for the young man? This is often a common thought when we witness something terrible happening to others. “Why does God allow these awful things to happen?” While many may think that way, I often begin to wonder about something else – why do we allow awful things to take place? Why do we rain down evil and hate on another? Again I ask, can love trump hate?
You see, the onus, the responsibility, is on us. We can point the finger at the Lord all we want, but the onus falls on us to look out for one another. Why did nobody stand to help that young man? Why do we refuse to lift a helping hand for another? Does this ever bother you? We have the power to lift each other up, but we are so filled up with hate that we don’t bother to help each other. A community cannot function or succeed when one hates the other. A community is a feeling of fellowship with others as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals. A community works together so that all people can experience a good reward. I feel that our key verses for today illustrate this beautifully for us.
In the first of our key verses (Ecclesiastes 4:9), Solomon says, “two are better than one”. Notice that Solomon references labor (working) and says that there is a “good reward” for their work. We know this to be of a great truth. When two people work together, they are able to get a great deal more done than someone trying to do everything by themselves. You see, one man can’t do everything by himself, no matter how many times he says it, and no matter how loudly he says it. Is there a reward for going solo? Maybe, but it would probably take longer to get to that reward and there would be nobody to share that reward with. For some, this sounds like music to their ears – enjoying their reward all for themselves, but this will grow old and stale quickly.
One of the greatest problems that we have in our community today is people isolating themselves from each other. Solomon said (Ecclesiastes 4:10), “Woe to him who is alone when he falls.” If one falls, and he is by himself, who is going to help pick him up? The answer is simple – nobody. If you fall and you’re by yourself, let’s hope your fall is not something that leads to a serious injury. I believe that hate cannot be in the mix when it comes to people working with each other. I believe this to be true because hate is a force that drives others away. Nobody wants to work with a person when the other is filled with hate – unless, I suppose, they are of like minds.
To work together, it takes both love and respect. You see, love can bring many people (a community) together, but hate will drive a community apart. The beauty of a community that works together is that someone would be there to help pick you up, or may even catch you before you hit the ground. Unfortunately, again, we are too hung up on ourselves for our community to work that way.
We see something terrible happening to another and we say to ourselves, “why should I get caught in their mess? Why should I help?” We have the power so that nobody would go hungry, or not have clothes on their backs or shoes on their feet, but we say to ourselves, “let them go work for theirs like I worked for mine!” This thought is commonplace for many people in our nation – “go get a job”. Yet, we have no idea what job they may or may not have! We have no idea whether they are even physically able to work a job. In other words, we have no idea what another person may be going through – they may be in the need of help. Yet, we refuse to offer our hand to help because we are overly self-driven and have no concern for others. We see what has been going on at the southern border, how people of Arab descent are treated, and we know the struggle of our own people in this land – yet some still refuse to move a muscle to help out a fellow brother or sister.
As a Christian, I feel our calling is to be the helping hand in our society. There was a time when the church, the pastor, deacons, and the mothers were seen as the pillars of a community – people would turn to them for help. However, time has changed and the church, the pastor, the deacons, and the mothers are no longer seen as pillars in the community. Many choose to no longer turn to the church because the church is “stealing money”, the preacher “just wants your money”, the deacon “is up to no good”, and the mothers “just want to get on me” is what I have heard. Here’s a very frank truth that I know some will not want to hear and that is – these people may get on you, but they do so from a place of love. The truth is that if they cared nothing about you and if they did not love you, they would not “get on you”. You see, this effort to “get on you” comes from a place of love.
We underestimate the power of each other – of togetherness. We have convinced ourselves, wrongly, that those who love us actually hate us because they are offering so much correction in “my” life. If we truly care about each other, then we would diligently look to sharpen each other. When I say “sharpen”, I mean correct (or better). Solomon said (Proverbs 27:17) that “iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another”. The one interesting thing that I notice in our community is that people don’t like to be corrected! I feel one of the greatest failures of mankind is the idea that we cannot be corrected (rebuked). How do you expect to grow without correction (rebuke)? How can you become a better person if you feel there is absolutely nothing for you to correct in your life?
Are you sharpening those around you, and in turn, are they sharpening you? In other words, are you all making each other better? We all have to be willing to listen to correction if we, as a community, are going to grow and succeed. There are some who hate to hear rebuke and will surround themselves with yes men. However, Solomon says that the wise listen and learn from rebuke:
31 Whoever heeds life-giving correction will be at home among the wise. 32 Those who disregard discipline despise themselves, but the one who heeds correction gains understanding.
Proverbs 15:31-32 NIV
You see, the wise does not mind the rebuke of another. They will heed to correction, gain understanding, and grow. Too often, people try to surround themselves with people who share the same ideology so that it “confirms” them in their ideology. A community cannot grow if this route is always taken because there is no love when there is no offer of rebuke. Your ideology could be an ideology of hate, and all you have done is surround yourself who wrongly believe hate is the way. Love rebukes because love wants us to be a better person tomorrow than we are today.
I see our community today and it seems like our community is going sour like old spoiled milk. Nobody wants to drink sour milk; the only thing that can be done with sour milk is for it to be poured down the drain. I don’t want to see our community go down the drain! Love can trump hate if we open ourselves up to true correcting love. Hate closes off and pushes away the power of correcting love – this is why our community is in the shape it is today. It is a real shame that here in 2018 we are still paralyzed by many of the same things that have plagued and crippled mankind since the beginning of our time. A community is about togetherness, not hate and not going solo.