Posted by: Thomas Richard | November 1, 2021

Perfect Hatred and Perfect Love Due, in God

 Luke 10:25 And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”
26 He said to him, “What is written in the law? How do you read?”
27 And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.”
28 And he said to him, “You have answered right; do this, and you will live.”

I have heard the second part of this proper profession of the commandment to love, “you shall love your neighbor as yourself,” interpreted in ways not fitting to the fulness of truth.  Some have understood it to mean that we should love our neighbor since we love ourself – that is, a love for neighbor ought to be in us, since obviously we have love for ourself.  Others have explained it as, we ought to love our neighbor in the same measure that we love ourself.  Some, in the same way, or in the same ways or examples, that we love ourself.  So some have concluded that we ought to give (for example) the same gifts that we would like to receive, regardless of the differences in likes or values among neighbors compared with ourself. Or if I value quiet and solitude, I ought to keep silently away from the neighbor!  Or if I have little self-esteem, I owe little to no love for my neighbor.  

All of those distortions flow from an overly self-referenced perspective of both God and neighbor.  God, not I, sets the standard and measure and definition of love.  What I ought to do, is consider the second part of the commandment only in the light of the first.  Then, in and only in that complete love relationship with God, in the fullness of my heart, soul, strength and mind, can I properly love both myself and my neighbor, and all human persons.  That is, I must love myself only in God, as God loves me, and my neighbor only in God, as God loves him.   I must seek good, to receive or to give, only as God sees good.

In this fallen world, we must, if we are to be and to remain in God, love as He loves and all that He loves – and also! – we must hate as He hates, and what He hates. 

In the Book of Revelation, God gives us a teaching on this very subject, of God’s love and His hate, and from this, His will for us, in our loving in Him and our hating in Him.  We are to remain In Him, rightly loving as we ought, and rightly hating as we ought.

Rev 2:1 “To the angel of the church in Ephesus, write this: “‘The one who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks in the midst of the seven gold lampstands says this:
2 “I know your works, your labor, and your endurance, and that you cannot tolerate the wicked; you have tested those who call themselves apostles but are not, and discovered that they are impostors.
3 Moreover, you have endurance and have suffered for my name, and you have not grown weary.
4 Yet I hold this against you: you have lost the love you had at first.
5 Realize how far you have fallen. Repent, and do the works you did at first. Otherwise, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.
6 But you have this in your favor: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.
7 Whoever has ears ought to hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the victor I will give the right to eat from the tree of life that is in the garden of God.”’

The Lord is saying to the angel – to God’s messenger to this church – and to all the messengers in all the churches, and indeed to all who read and who listen to this Book of Revelation, that His own ought to hate as He hates, what He hates (vs 2 and 6), and love as He loves.  “You cannot tolerate the wicked; they are imposters,” and “you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.”  We see that God’s perfect hatred is toward the works, not the men as men.  God hates the wickedness of wicked men, He hates the lying of liars, He hates the works of the sect of Nicolaitans (which are later clarified in Rev 2:15).  

St. Augustine helped to make this point in his book, City of God:

Wherefore the man who lives according to God, and not according to man, ought to be a lover of good, and therefore a hater of evil.  And since no one is evil by nature, but whoever is evil is evil by vice, he who lives according to God ought to cherish towards evil men a perfect hatred, so that he shall neither hate the man because of his vice, nor love the vice because of the man, but hate the vice and love the man.  For the vice being cursed, all that ought to be loved, and nothing that ought to be hated, will remain. (1)

Augustine clarifies the chasm separating good from evil.  All that God created is good!  The nature of man is good.  The freedom to choose is good, even though it allows the choice of evil.  In our journey through this fallen world, we can choose good as well as evil, and through His mercy, and His hand of forgiveness, we can grow in sanctification to choose well: to hate evil and sin as He hates, and to love in the fullness of our human nature, as He loves in the fullness of His divine nature.  

A cautionary note is added in Augustine’s teaching here: a man after God’s heart ought to “cherish towards evil men a perfect hatred, so that he shall neither hate the man because of his vice, nor love the vice because of the man, but hate the vice and love the man.”  It is wrong to hate the man because of his vice.  It is wrong to love the vice because of the man.  It is right and we ought to love the man, and hate the vice – hate the sin – hate the lie.

To love the neighbor as oneself, in God, is also to hate the evil against God whether held in the neighbor or in the self.  Once the evil being hated with perfect hatred is rejected completely, then all that ought to be loved and nothing that ought to be hated, will remain – in the neighbor, and in the inner chambers of oneself, where God the Holy Trinity dwells, awaiting our Holy Communion of love.

Footnote (1): Augustine, City of God, Book XIV, Chapter 6–Of the Character of the Human Will Which Makes the Affections of the Soul Right or Wrong.


Responses

  1. Dear Thomas,

    Thanks for this Blog article so appropriate for “All Saints Day!” God is Love and learning to love Truly is so important for all of us. Jesus revealed at the Last Supper, “This is My Commandment that you love one another as I have loved you!”

    Mary, Mother of Jesus and our Mother, intercede for your children that we may listen to all Jesus said and did, pondering all in our hearts, that we may do the Truth we hear from Him always, just as you did on this earth. Amen.

  2. Thomas, this article was so enlightening. I’ve read Revelation more than once, but I never “noticed” that God can hate! Of course He can, and does. He hates Evil. Such a simple thing, but I know God a little better now. And that is a beautiful thing. I have to love as He loves, and hate as He hates. Thank God for this beautiful, simple lesson. Thank you for posting God’s Truth.


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