For those of you wondering why I wrote an article titled that, there’s a simple reason. Today is National Do a Grouch a Favor Day! I find it appropriate that it happens two days after Valentine’s day for two reasons. One, those of us who are still single
me might feel a little grouchy me after seeing everyone else celebrating love since we want to meet the love of our lives me.
But the second reason. A reason I find much more appropriate. Valentine’s is a day about loving those who are closest to us. Celebrating those we want to keep in our lives. We all find it easy to serve those we love. Serving those we dislike comes much harder for us.
Which is why we must make an effort to love those who we hate. And I will admit that hate is a strong word. But even though we should have charity towards all of God’s Children, the natural man often creeps in and makes us develop feelings not in tune with Christ’s teachings. I want to figure out how to eliminate said feelings.
Now, I’m not here to talk about ways we can serve. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has tremendous resources for those who want to serve. An article even discusses ways we can serve that we don’t often think of as service.
I want to talk about why. Why we need to serve those we hate.
1. Serving is a Commandment
Many of us know the parable of the sheep and the goats found in Matthew 25. Where the Son of Man divides all nations into two, and to His sheep, He thanks them for the service they gave Him. The sheep, clearly confused, ask when they had served their Lord, and this familiar scripture follows:
But to the goats, the Lord sends them to “everlasting punishment” because they did not serve. From this parable, we understand that we must serve others if we want to inherit the Kingdom of God.
Notice how the Lord said “the least of these my brethren” and not “those that you love.” For truly, service cannot be considered service if we serve only those that we love. Those that we find it easy to serve. We need to remember that Jesus said:
If we intend to keep all the commandments, we must love and serve those we hate.
2. God is Love
Scripture Mastery Pop Quiz! How many of you have 1 John 4:16 memorized? (This really just shows how well I paid attention in seminary. Not only am I unsure if this is even scripture mastery, I don’t have it memorized.)
Okay, time’s up. Here’s the answer.
We know that God is love, that He is the embodiment and personification of true, selfless love. And in Matthew chapter 5, we are commanded to be “perfect, even as [our] Father which is in heaven is perfect.” Being perfect like God should be our ultimate goal in this lifetime. Is it attainable? No (my mother being the only exception). But the purpose of life is to strive to become better. We need to have that selfless love for others if we want to be more like God.
3. Hate Drives Away the Spirit
Now, it’s time for Scripture Math 101! In Helaman 4 we read that “the Spirit of the Lord doth not dwell in unholy temples,” and from 1 Corinthians 6, we know that our bodies are temples. Now, the definition of the word “unholy” is “sinful,” or full of sin. Then the definition of “sin” is “a transgression against divine law.” From my first point, we know that loving our enemies is a divine law. So, if a equals b, b equals c, then a must equal c. So the scripture in Helaman 4 could read “the Spirit of the Lord doth not dwell in [those who hate their enemies]” (Congratulations, you finished the first assignment in Scripture Math 101. The final will just be finishing the article).
But let’s be serious for a moment (Yes, I can be serious). From the scriptures, we learn of the many different roles the Spirit of the Lord has. He testifies of truth. He’s the Comforter. He guides us away from physical and spiritual danger and towards joy and light. It is His power that sanctifies us when we repent of our sins.
“For verily, verily I say unto you, he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another.” – 3 Nephi 11:29
Wouldn’t we do everything in our power to keep the Holy Ghost with us?
When we hold onto hate, we hold onto something that prevents the Holy Spirit from staying with us. The Spirit of God is a Spirit of Love, and not contention, anger, or hate. If we wish to have the Comforter with us at all times and in all places, we cannot have hatred towards anyone. Which leads into my next point.
4. We Grow to Love Those We Serve
I don’t like that man. I must get to know him better. – Abraham Lincoln
This quote is one of my absolute favorites. So often we judge others too quickly and too easily simply because we don’t know them. We only really get to see one aspect of a person who has so much depth and complexity. And what’s the best way to grow to love someone? Service. The Book of Mormon says that “charity is the pure love of Christ,” and the modern definition of charity is donating to those in need. Essentially, serving others by donating.
Any act of service opens our hearts to those we serve. After all, we will truly be serving our Lord. When we dedicate ourselves to helping those we dislike, it opens our heart to develop the same charity that Christ has for us. And as we read in 1 Samuel 16:7,
We know that God is love. We know that He loves all of us. When we serve, we can develop that same kind of love that allows the Lord to look upon the hearts of everyone.
5. We Are All Children of God
The Primary Children sing it. Often, the youth and adults will sing this too. The belief that we are literal children of God is central to the teachings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. As the perfect parent, God loves each of His children, and we need to make the effort to do the same.
I’m certainly not perfect at loving and serving those I dislike. Sometimes, it’s even a chore to serve my actual brothers. But I know that God has asked us to serve everyone. I know that He will provide a way for us to love those we feel we could never love. And I know that our hearts will grow to include all of God’s children, just so long as we’re willing to try.