There are forces at work today seeking to undermine the kind of boldness that God wants us to have when presenting biblical truth. One of these is the accusation that to disagree with someone is to hate them. This stems from the misguided use of Yeshua’s words, “Judge not, that you be not judged” (Matthew 7:1).
To judge in this context is to take God’s place in other people’s lives by determining who is acceptable to him and who is not. While followers of Yeshua are authorized to proclaim forgiveness and salvation in his name, we have no right to determine who is condemned. We don’t know people’s hearts. While we all are in desperate need of being rescued by God through the Messiah, people’s final outcome is in God’s hands, not ours. Arrogantly standing over people with a condescending attitude puts ourselves in a very precarious situation before God. We shouldn’t be surprised when lack of mercy on our part is reciprocated by God, the only true Judge.
But this warning doesn’t prohibit all forms of criticism or disagreement. A disagreement can lead to judging, but having an opinion about something that differs from another person, even to vocalize that opinion isn’t judging of the kind that Yeshua warned against.
And yet to express one’s disapproval of someone else’s actions today is being taken more and more as not only judging but as hatred. Of course, some people expressing disapproval may indeed hate the object of their criticism, but that’s not automatically the case.
To accuse someone who doesn’t accept certain behaviors or opinions of hatred is to overly associate oneself with ones’ own behaviors and opinions. When disagreement is taken to imply personal rejection in terms of “You hate me!”, it plays upon the sympathies of many Yeshua followers, whose hearts are geared to love and not hate. It is easy for the tender-hearted to become confused, thinking that in order to assure others of our love, we need to accept their behavior or at least keep our disagreement to ourselves.
Could you imagine if health practitioners did this? Someone comes with an ailment of some kind and the cause is obvious to the therapist. Effectively treating the patient necessitates confronting self-abusive behavior, but so as not be taken as a hater, they keep their opinion to themselves. But isn’t that what real hate is?
Loving people is telling them the truth and to tell it to them clearly. I know there are so many ways to deliver truth in unhelpful ways. That’s why the New Covenant Scriptures teach us to “speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15). Let’s not be intimidated by false accusations of hatred; instead let’s begin to boldly (and lovingly) speak the truth others so desperately need to hear.