Regularly reading the news can be a soul-draining experience. Another shooting rampage or rape or robbery always seems to be on the horizon. There’s no end to the deeds of hatred committed by people. We only tend to hear about the most unusual or vile acts—those that will get the most attention from readers perpetually on the lookout for more bad news. We shake our heads at the especially "evil people" while simultaneously struggling to purge the secret hatred for others from our own hearts.
If you live in this world long enough, you may start to wonder if hate is stronger than love. Whether evil has more muscles to flex than good and how long it’ll be until love is permanently annihilated. There are some substantial reasons why you may feel this way. And those feelings can easily exist in your heart even if you’re not typically prone to negativity. Hatred is all around us. At times, it’s brazen and in-your-face. At other moments, it’s even concealed as kindness.
And so, the question of this article comes down to this: Is sinful hatred stronger? Or, is unconditional love stronger. I hope that, deep down, you already know the answer to a question like that. Still, hopefully, this article will give you more confidence and courage to that end (We could all use a little more of that).
By way of analogy, hatred can seem like the school bully beating up on the scrawny boy (love) twice his size. Sure, we’re all rooting for that scrawny boy who wasn’t doing anybody any harm. The odds don’t look good for the seeming underdog though. If that analogy rings true in your mind, you’re not alone. Millions of people around you feel the same thing every day. The comforting reality is that things aren’t always as they appear. And, in this case, that’s a very good thing.
Love is stronger than hate. Despite appearances, it has always been that way and nothing will ever change that fact. We can either choose to believe that truth or we can continually wring our hands about how much evil is in the world, fearing things will never improve. Having said that, it’s good to be bothered by a world full of hatred. It should bother you. Still, you don’t need to get too used to a sin-choked climate bubbling with hatred because it certainly won’t last—thank God.
Defining Hatred and Love
Before going any further, there’s something we need to clarify. Hate isn’t always evil. The only time hatred is justified is when it’s properly directed towards evil itself. For instance, God hates sin and what it does to people. That doesn’t mean God is sinning because of this stance. However, for the sake of this article, we’ll speak of hatred in the sinful sense (the destructive kind generally directed towards our fellow man, God’s creation and the Creator Himself).
It’s possible for a human being to hate something and not sin but that doesn’t mean it’s easy for a fallen creature to do so. Just like it’s possible for a sinful person to be angry and not sin. Again, it can be quite difficult to pull that off too.
We also ought to clear up what we mean by "love." By love, we don’t mean self-indulgent lust or all the cheap ideas the world has assigned to the word. Rather, we’ll refer to love in its purest sense. Unconditional love is what we’re talking about here. A love with no strings attached. Manipulative “love” is simply selfishness in nice clothes and that certainly isn’t the real thing. Even the Devil can manufacture that sort of “love.”
Many consider I Corinthians 13 to be the most beautiful and all-encompassing descriptions of love in the Bible (Although Christ’s sacrifice on the cross is the most mind-blowing and forever unrivaled example of love). Here’s an excerpt from that passage.
Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never fails… (I Corinthians 13:4-8a)
Real love seeks your benefit in all things. But that can be very different from what we think would benefit us the most. God perfectly understands what we need at each moment. His children in their weakness often ask God for things that would bring us great harm if He answered those prayers. We can all thank God that He’s perfect in his love for us by not answering “yes” to our many limited, short-sighted and selfish prayers!
In case you’re curious, here are some reasons why love is ultimately stronger than hate. Yes, my friends, the "scrawny kid" does win in the end! Love is Stronger than Hate Because God is Love God is the source of love and infinitely powerful which automatically gives love the upper hand. He embodies the meaning of love. Nothing can alter, diminish or destroy that reality. God is the only infinite and all-powerful being who exists. The Bible even goes as far as to tell us that God is love.
He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. (I John 4:8)
Love is so tied to God’s character, that in a very real sense, He is love. It’s tough for us to wrap our minds around this idea. We’re used to human love that sometimes is there and sometimes isn’t. We certainly wouldn’t single out one of our fellow sinful human beings and say, “that person is love.” That would be a bit strange, don’t you think?
Too often, there are conditions to be met first before we receive broken human love. We refer to love as an "attribute" of God, but, more accurately, it’s far more set in stone than even that. When God told Moses "I am who I am," this best describes how all-encompassing God’s characteristics are. They are not accessories that are there at times, they actually are Him.
And God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And He said, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” (Exodus 3:14)
God won’t ever change for anyone or anything. He "is who He is" and a big part of that is love. From eternity past to eternity present, He will always be who He is. That includes his unalterable connection to love. Why do we admire people who choose to be the best version of themselves despite outside pressure to conform to the norm? Because we reflect the image of our Creator when we do so.
God, being the unlimited being He is, proves that love is more powerful than the hatred of people or Himself. The evil world system, operated by the demon world, is a cancer but the great Physician will prevail at the right time and destroy that it for good.
In the end, love is a nuclear explosion of good while evil is a pea shooter. It’s just hard to see right now because there are a loathsome number of “pea shooters” at present. The earth’s moral climate often feels hopelessly toxic. But hatred isn’t a thing in and of itself.
Hatred is the absence of the real thing—love. We tend to judge the power of something by how much it harms or destroys. The way we categorize natural disasters such as tsunamis, earthquakes, floods, hurricanes and tornadoes are a perfect example of this.
In reality, it requires far more power to love someone—to build them up and heal them rather than tear them down. But, in our sinful mindset, we struggle to see that. Which is easier? To build a house from the foundation up or to burn one to the ground? Obviously, building a house takes far more energy, effort and expertise. Anyone could burn a house to the ground. Precious few can build a house from start to completion, however.
Don’t give Satan too much credit. Yes, He’s very adept at burning our houses (souls) to the ground which is motivated by hatred. But he cannot lift a finger without God’s permission and He awaits a terrible eternal punishment. God, on the other hand, can lovingly restore our souls and bring us to Heaven faultless without a single blemish.
Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling,
And to present you faultless
Before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy,
To God our Savior,
Who alone is wise,
Be glory and majesty,
Dominion and power,
Both now and forever.
Can Satan and the demon world restore someone’s soul or even bring an ounce of good to them? No. They’re not nearly powerful enough to do that. They can only destroy and hate. No sinful human can restore their soul enough to be accepted by God either. Only God can do that through Jesus Christ. And that is one of the key reasons love is ultimately stronger than hate.
God is all-powerful and perfectly carries out love with limitless ability. No other created being can boast of such a thing. All love comes from God, and we couldn’t even begin our weak, whimpering attempts at love God back if He hadn’t first shown us what love was. It could be argued that there is no force in the universe comparable to the love of God.
Hatred has Limits
Just as much in the opposite direction of God’s love is sinful hatred. And, thankfully, that hatred has limits. Wrapped in Jesus’ warning to fear God instead of people is the comforting truth that hatred can only go so far. Here’s what Jesus said in the book of Matthew:
And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. (Matthew 10:28)
Physical murder is one of the vilest actions that can befall a person. Despite that, no matter how violent a person’s hatred against you is, they cannot touch your soul. Only God has the authority to do that.
Why is this important to the love-hatred discussion? Because it shows that sinful hatred, even at its worst, has limited power. Hatred is like an angry dog tied to a tree looking to harm anything that comes near it. But hatred can only go as far as its “leash” allows. It cannot harm the least millimeter of God’s heavenly realms. It also can’t go any further on this sin-cursed earth than God allows.
It’s the evil hearts of fallen demons and mankind that lead to hateful thoughts and actions, not God. God cannot cause evil any more than He can look at it. At the same time, there are a lot of things we may be tempted to think of as evil that God carries out. For instance, casting someone into Hell as this passage suggests can be a major hang-up for those reading the Bible.
However, God provided a way for ruined mankind to be made right with Him through Jesus. And it came at an incalculable cost (the life of his own Son). For that reason, God is not evil for judging sinful people who refuse to accept forgiveness through Jesus (the only way to get out of judgment and to enter Heaven).
Instead, He’s doing the very thing He has to do to remain a perfectly holy and sinless God. If He didn’t judge sin, God would cease to be good. And contrary to what some may say, God isn’t happy about the need to judge unrepentant people. His heart breaks for them. In the book of Ezekiel, God says that He takes no pleasure in the death of those who aren’t yet his children.
“For I have no pleasure in the death of one who dies,” says the Lord God. “Therefore turn and live!” (Ezekiel 18:32)
This passage is ultimately speaking of avoiding spiritual death. It’s referring to the necessary judgment that must come upon those who hate God (spiritual death). And scripture makes it clear that apart from the saving grace of Jesus entering our lives, we’re enemies of God and haters of Him.
But that hatred for God by demons and people will not go on forever without consequences. Sure, you could say the inhabitants of Hell spend eternity in hatred toward their Creator. But they no longer have the ability to go on in their arrogance as they did on earth.
In the book of Job, God allowed Satan to cause incredible ruin in Job’s life. What was Satan’s motivation to do so? There probably were a lot of reasons why he sought to destroy Job such as jealousy. However, one of the root motivations was likely hatred for him (and God).
We get every indication that Job was a redeemed servant of God. He’d been made right with God through faith. Satan hated the fact that Job would be with the Lord at death instead of experiencing judgment he deserved. No such salvation was offered to the fallen angels and that likely enraged him, enflaming his hatred for Job all the more.
Although God allowed incredible hardship to enter Job’s life, he also set limits on what Satan could do to him. God was not pleased with the evil Satan caused, but He did work the evil actions of Satan against Job for good. He also will eventually judge Satan for the evil he inflicted on Job and countless others throughout history.
God told Satan that he couldn’t take Job’s life, for instance. We also know from Scripture that Satan was incapable of taking Job’s soul from him— the uncontested most valuable thing that can be taken from someone. Hatred had its limits and still does today. These boundaries cannot be crossed no matter how much hostility, evil or hatred is exercised.
Love Doesn’t Have Boundaries
Love isn’t limited like hatred is. I guess theoretically you could say there are some things that love cannot do. True love has nothing to do with sin. Because of that, one might say that love has limitations but that isn’t true. Hatred is comparable to cancer—a decomposition of the soul.
Let’s say your body was strong enough that it was incapable of getting cancer. You certainly wouldn’t say your body was limited because it couldn’t get cancer. In a sense, cancer isn’t anything at all. It’s merely the absence of health, life and vitality.
In the same way, it would be inaccurate to say that love has limits like hate does. You wouldn’t say true love (God’s love) is limited because it can’t sin or exhibit hatred. Its inability to stray into something that diminishes and destroys its power isn’t a limitation at all. Quite the opposite, actually.
In the End, Love Will Have the Final Word
At the moment, we pray, "Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven," for a reason. That’s because things certainly aren’t done the same way in Heaven as they are on earth at the moment. We instinctively know that prayer so well that we often fail to reflect on the profoundness of that section of the Lord’s prayer. Eventually, that hope and request will be fulfilled.
Yes, my friend, it sure can feel like hatred is stronger. Like hate will bully love out of existence. But that will never ever happen. We live on a speck of dust in space in comparison to the rest of all that exists. Our home is a rebel planet where things aren’t as they should be. Despite that, God remains unsoiled in character by the hatred and evil existing on earth.
At the right time, God will intervene and stop the hate. He will judge the deeds of people and the evil spirit world with perfect and limitless understanding. And He will usher those in right standing with Him into an eternal place of complete love. Hatred will be completely gone from the landscape. The New Heaven and New Earth will be as things were meant to be.
There will be no need for the sun, moon or stars because of the brightness of Jesus. It will always be day from that moment forward. Nothing will be able to extinguish the light or beauty of our risen Savior who was crucified to pay for our sins. We’ll forever live with God who is love. And we’ll never again experience even the briefest moment of feeling unloved.
When that time comes, we might say, “Oh, that’s what was meant by love.” In reality, we still won’t comprehend how endless the love of God is. But we’ll have an entire eternity to find out. And each moment will be better than the last one!