Hatred to Love
18th NOVEMBER, 2021
Scripture: I was so zealous that I harshly persecuted the church. And as for righteousness, I obeyed the law without fault. [Philippians 3:6 NLT]
It isn’t particularly unusual to see, in a movie or storybook, a situation where the very worst of enemies somehow end up as the best of friends or closest allies. However, in the practical world, how common is this really? How many times do you witness the most hostile enemies come to be the closest friends in the truest meaning of the word “friend”?
Don’t refer to the forced tolerance of countries with each other for the sake of trade or international relations, or even competitor companies merging together to have greater profits in business. No, those are examples of ‘from enemies to tolerable partners or acquaintances’ at best. Consider an actual situation where a person wishes destruction on another person (even by his/her own hand if possible) and then somehow, later on, possesses a love so strong for this person that they would give his life for the one he once wished to kill. Do you think this is possible? No? Oh, but it certainly is.
Our scripture for today reveals a Paul who is recounting his past as a Jew under the law to the Philippians. The very basis of that identity was the motivation for “righteously” persecuting the early church. You see, Paul hated the early church and believers with religious zeal! His hatred wasn’t just of him, but he believed it was actually an expression of God’s hatred towards a group of heretics.
Yet after a supernatural encounter with Jesus in Acts 9, the rest of Paul’s life is one lived in service and sacrifice, motivated by the strongest love for God (Phil 3:7–11) and his church (Phil 1:3–6), the same believers he once sought official permission to destroy (Acts 9:2). Only the Grace of God can transform such deep-seated hate into a profound wellspring of genuine self-sacrificing love, and all towards the same thing or person. The extent of Paul’s love for the church was unto death (2 Tim 4:6).
Moses was also one such man who was transformed from a murderous man of hate into a leader of love and sacrifice. God’s grace isn’t merely one that saves us, but it radically transforms us into people who desire and work (service) in order to save others, especially those we may have once or still consider our “enemies.” Who was your “enemy” before you were saved by Grace? We encourage you to reach out to them in love and kindness. It is possible you were redeemed for this very reason.
Lord, I cannot thank You enough for Your grace that snatched me away from death and destruction. Help me to channel that same grace to love people I once wished destruction upon. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Further Reading: Romans 5:8–10 / Matthew 5:44
Prophetic Declaration: Psalms 91