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Self-Destructive Hatred

George Washington Carver (1864–1943) overcame terrible racial prejudice to establish himself as a renowned American educator. Spurning the temptation to give in to bitterness for the way he was treated, Carver wisely wrote, “Hate within will eventually destroy the hater.”

In the book of Esther, we see how self-destructive hatred can be. Mordecai, a Jew, refused to bow down before Haman—a self-important dignitary in the Persian court. This angered Haman, who manipulated information to make Mordecai and his people appear as threats to the empire (3:8-9). When his scheming was complete, Haman called on the Persian king to kill all the Jews. The king proclaimed an edict to that effect, but before it could be carried out, Esther intervened and Haman’s devious plot was revealed (7:1-6). Enraged, the king had Haman executed on gallows the schemer had built for Mordecai (7:7-10).

Carver’s words and Haman’s actions remind us that hatred is self-destructive. The biblical response is to turn hatred around and return good for evil. “Repay no one evil for evil,” Paul said (Rom. 12:17). When offended, “do not avenge yourselves” (v.19). Instead, do what is right (v.17) that you may live “peaceably with all men” (v.18).

Harboring hatred in the heart
Will not lead to success;
But following truth and love and grace
Will lead to blessedness. —Hess
Hatred promotes self-destruction;
love fulfills Christ’s instruction.