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Who Does Hatred Harm?

One day a melon farmer noticed that thieves were stealing from his patch each evening. Desperate to save what was left of his crop to sell at market, he put up a sign with a skull and crossbones that read, "One of these melons is poisoned." Sure enough, it worked for two nights and not one melon was stolen. But on the third night he noticed that the sign had been altered. Now it read, "Two of these melons are poisoned." That farmer found out the hard way that when you fight fire with fire, what you often wind up with is a more intense fire. He forgot that the fire department usually uses water.

Hatred is a poison that harms many people. Far too frequently news headlines announce some horrific, heinous crime committed by a person/persons filled with hatred. An estranged spouse murders his wife and mother-in-law and his own children; a laid off or a ticked-off worker shows up at the factory or office armed to the teeth with shotguns and big-caliber pistols; a lonely, detached student goes to school and opens fire on teachers and fellow-students. The Bible seeks to warn us that hatred unchecked in our hearts makes us homicidal: "Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him" (1 John 3:15). Mark 6:16-29 illustrates the point. That passage relates the murder of John the Baptist at the hands of King Herod, and it also reveals that the motive behind the murder was hatred in the heart of Herodias, Herod's wife: "For Herod himself had sent and laid hold of John, and bound him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip's wife; for he had married her. For John had said to Herod, 'It is not lawful for you to have your brother's wife.' Therefore Herodias held it against him and wanted to kill him, but she could not." Read the passage for yourself and you will see that by the time the incident ends in vs 29, Herodias' hatred for John has harmed not only herself and him, but also her husband Herod and her daughter Salome. The whole sad, sordid incident reminds us that carrying a grudge is like a run in a stocking - it can only get worse.

Is there hatred in your heart? Whose head would you like to have? Hatred is destructive - to self and to others. Harry Emerson Fosdick said, "Hating people is like burning down your home to get rid of a rat." You may hurt the rat, but you hurt yourself and suffer great loss in the process. Hatred often harms the hated, but it always harms the vessel in which it is stored more than the object on which it is poured. Don't let hatred harm you. You will always come out farther ahead if you refuse to try and get even.

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ