Hating Your Own Life (1)
Especially given contemporary forms of expression, it ought to be said, first, what hating your own life does not mean. It does not require or encourage the following attitudes or speech: “I hate the way I look—my hair, my face, my body!” “I hate my wardrobe; I have nothing nice to put on!” “I hate being unpopular at school; no one likes me; I have no friends!” “I hate having no boyfriend or girlfriend; nobody wants me!”
Others complain, “My marriage is no good. I am trapped in it. I wish I could leave him [or her]!” “My children get me down!” “My house is a dump. Who in their right mind would like to live here?” “I hate my job; I don’t want to be stuck doing this for the rest of my life!” or “I hate not having a job!”
Others hate their bad health or their disabilities or their being old.
Sadly, there are many people who hate their place in the world. They lament that they have no money, no future, nothing to look forward to, no joy and no peace.
This is not what our Lord is referring to when He said that we must hate our own lives. What I have been describing is the self-pity that we can so easily slide into when, contrary to Romans 8:31, we think things are against us, when we take our eyes off the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, the God of all grace.
This is a very dangerous thing, beloved, because you are moving away from faith in the Triune God and the greatness of your salvation in the cross of Christ. You are also forgetting about other people and your calling towards them. You are indulging in self-pity. Constant worrying about yourself and your problems rapidly spirals deeper into self-absorption.
It is hard, if not impossible, to think or say, “I hate my job, I hate my marriage, I hate the way I look, I hate everything!” without blaming God. After all, He is the sovereign Lord over all things. His testimony is that “all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Rom. 8:28). However, the sinful “hating” described above is a loud protest: “No, they don’t! At least not for me!” But think what you are saying! You are contradicting God’s holy Word!
I have explained especially what hating your “own life” does not mean because hating your life, in the way spoken of above, is characteristic of those afflicted with depression. Hating one’s life, in this sense, will lead to suicidal thoughts. For if you hate A, B, C, etc.—that is, if you hate your “life”—why would you want to continue to live? People trapped in these thoughts begin to wonder, “Why should I not kill myself?” This whole way of thinking is of the flesh, not the Holy Spirit. This is worldly despair, not faith in God’s Word.
What then is it to hate your life? Hating your own life involves hating your own sinfulness and sin. Every disciple of Jesus Christ must and does hate his or her old man of sin, the old nature. Paul laments in Romans 7, “in me (that is, in my flesh), dwelleth no good thing” (18) and “what I hate, that do I” (15)! Thus Christ’s command to hate your life includes hating the old man, the evil source of all your evil thoughts and lusts and words and deeds, and your sinful works. God hates them and you do too!
God’s children hate themselves as those who are sinful and who sin. Job confessed, “I abhor [or loathe and detest] myself, and repent in dust and ashes” (42:6). Isaiah exclaimed, “Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts” (6:5).
True Christian disciples also hate their own self-righteousness. The Apostle Paul explains, “But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ” (Phil. 3:7-8). We loathe these things because they would rob us of righteousness in, and fellowship with, the Lord Jesus.
Those who follow their Saviour, in hating their own lives, detest and reject those things which hold them back from serving Him wholly. If you cannot control the use of your television (which is quite possible) or if your children can’t control the use of your TV (very possible), then either establish, maintain and enforce clear, godly guidelines or get rid of your television. If you or your children are watching sinful DVDs or listening to ungodly music, remember that the local council collects your bin once a week or fortnight. Thrust this rubbish away from you, for Jesus Christ is also Lord of your “entertainment.”
The incarnate Son of God instructs us, “Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on” (Matt. 6:25). Matthew 6:19-34, in the Sermon on the Mount, explains more fully the things included in your “own life” in Luke 14:26.
The kingdom of God takes priority over food and drink, clothing and shelter. In His first temptation, Christ was urged by Satan to turn stones into bread. His fitting response was: “It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4). On another occasion, the Lord declared, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head” (Luke 9:58).
So if you are faced with starvation or renouncing Christ, or with losing your home or apostatizing, you must cling to the Saviour and let all these things go, for discipleship is the call to hate your life and the things of your life. Rev. Angus Stewart
- Volume: 15
- Issue: 4
Rev. Angust Stewart (Wife: Mary)
Ordained - 2001
Pastorates: Covenant Protestant Reformed Church of Ballymena, Northern Ireland - 2001Website: www.cprf.co.uk/
Address7 Lislunnan Road
State or ProvinceCo.Antrim
Zip CodeBT42 3NR
Telephone(01144) 28 25 891851