When the Vultures Gather: Understanding Why They Hate You and How to Overcome
I bet you were prepared for a lot of things when you gave your life to Christ. But more than likely, you were probably not prepared to be hated. We live in a world that is increasingly filled with hate. People experience this in every arena, including school, work, and even at home among family members. Many times these are individuals that cannot easily be escaped. Hatred is rampant in the world today, and it’s even in the Church. When the vultures gather, understanding why they hate you and how to overcome will keep you from falling prey. If you have been suffering the persecution of hatred in any measure or manner, this post is for you.
Hatred is marked by MALICE. It operates with MALICIOUS INTENT.
In this post we are going to do the following:
- We’re going to reveal some of the reasons why people hate and how it manifests.
- We will discuss how God calls us to respond so we may overcome it.
- And we will take a look at some biblical examples of those who have suffered the same, and how they overcame.
When the Vultures Gather
Hatred operates by a murderous spirit that seeks to kill and destroy. It brings death. It wants to destroy your reputation, your dignity, your emotional integrity, and even your life.
Christ suffered cruel, intense, and unjust hatred. You are not alone, dear one.
When the vultures gather it is for one reason – to feast upon the dead.
YOU DO NOT HAVE TO FALL PREY.
None of us truly expect to be hated, especially when we’ve done no wrong and have lived a good life that is kind, loving, caring, and morally decent. We commonly believe that if we love others, they will love us back; if we honor others, they will honor us; if we are kind to others, they will be kind to us. We expect a reciprocation in kind. However, I have news for you – that is not always true, and such expectations or beliefs are naive at best. The longer you live, you’ll sadly discover that the manner in which you treat others is not always reciprocated. That injustice is a cold harsh reality. Therefore, our goal in loving others cannot rest in our desire or expectation to be loved back. It has to truly be for the sake of that individual we are loving – regardless of how they treat us and whether or not they receive it. There cannot be a selfish desire or motivation. We must understand that the love Christ commands us to walk in is sacrificial. We can only love people as Christ intends when we see their inherent worth and value to Him, which is entirely independent of their behavior. Loving others is not an easy thing to do. It is the greatest commandment Christ gave us, and yet it is the very hardest to obey.
Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy. But I say to you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect, (Matthew 5:43-48, KJV).
With that being said, I believe Christ wants to unmask some of the reasons why people hate, and how to respond to them with overwhelming victory. Because it’s not just the Church who suffers this brand of persecution – it’s in the world as well. All you have to do is watch the news about another young life that has been lost due to bullying. That is hatred at work. It tears down and destroys. Hatred murders. It operates in a spirit of death. And for those who are not equipped or prepared to face this cruel enemy, they sadly fall prey.
So why do people hate? I’m about to show you.
The life you live is a mirror to those around you. It reveals things they don’t want to see about themselves. The brighter your life is in Christ, the more glaring the image will be to those who don’t walk with Him. We are told in scripture that we are living epistles read of all men (see 2 Corinthians 3:1-6), and that we are the fragrance of Christ to those who believe, but to those who do not believe we are the aroma of death (see 2 Corinthians 2:14-16).
Ponder that for a moment.
There is no clearer image of oneself than a mirror. It always tells the truth. Mirrors don’t lie. When you practice excellence, it’s going to reveal those who prefer the shortcut, like to skirt things, and cheat. When you walk in integrity, it will reveal those who are dishonest, irresponsible, and untrustworthy. When you go the extra mile, it’s going to make others who give 100% feel incompetent or inferior. Our life in Christ can stimulate others toward an insidious competition that is fueled by jealousy and insecurity – even among believers.
When the light of your life reveals people for who they truly are,
four of the most common reasons people hate are the following:
they become offended, threatened, intimidated and jealous.
For everyone that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God, (John 3:20, 21, KJV).
Regardless of the situation or circumstance, if you take time to evaluate it, one of these key four attributes can usually be identified at the root of the hatred being displayed. Many times, there is more than one. Those who participate in these – their evil works are endless. Time and space would fail us to talk about the ways in which people devise hatred against others, and carry it out.
The Badge of Honor
Just as there are those you repel, there will also be those you attract. The closer you walk with Christ, the more polarization you will experience in your relationships. The magnetism will be strong – in the positive as well as negative sense. There will be those you strongly attract, because they are of kindred heart and spirit; and there will be those you literally repel for the very reasons aforementioned. This polarization can be intense, even as it was for Christ. However, the more any individual sits on the proverbial fence in life, this intensity will lessen – we become neutral. We may feel safe here, and feel a level of peace for the lack of conflict we experience. Yet Christ calls this being ‘lukewarm’ (see Revelation 3:16). So be careful. We may not like being hated by others, but once Christ is so repulsed by us as to spew us out, we are in dangerous territory. If you’re going to be hated – be hated for the right reasons. Christ makes it clear that when we are hated for His name’s sake, we are to rejoice. This is the truest compliment the world could give to any Christian. It’s a genuine badge of honor. For those of you who do not handle conflict well, you need to know:
The bottom line is you are going to have enemies if you live for Christ.
Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you, (Matthew 5:1-12, KJV).
If you believe you will escape being hated by the Church because you’re in the Church, you will soon be disappointed. Give it enough time, and the disillusionment will eventually come. Hatred is everywhere. It’s in the Church even as it’s in the world.
He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now. He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him. But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes, (1 John 2:9-11, KJV).
Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him (1 John 3:15, KJV).
You must learn how to handle this type of conflict. For some of us, this is not a problem. For others of us, it’s an enormous one. It’s literally disabling. We are debilitated by it. The mere thought of conflict just ties us in knots, because we’ll do anything to avoid it. So we must learn. There’s no way around this if we’re going to live victorious Christian lives.
Sheep In the Midst of Wolves
Christ made it clear that we will know them by their fruit (see Matthew 7:16-23). A good tree bears good fruit, even as a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit. And a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. This is elementary. He made it absolutely clear that we will be known by our love (see John 13:35). I beg you in Christ’s name, do not be deceived. You must understand that there are tares among the wheat, and there are goats among the sheep. That day will come when Christ will sift and divide. Until then, we must walk wisely. We are to be as wise as serpents and as harmless as doves.
Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves, (Matthew 10:16, KJV).
Even as Christ said, He entrusted himself to no man, for He knew what was in man (see John 2:23-25). We don’t truly know what is in us or what we are capable of doing. Peter is a perfect example in that he denied Christ three times although he vehemently protested that prophecy. The heart is deceitful above all things, and requires a careful searching by the LORD if it is to truly be known (see Jeremiah 17:9, 10). We all struggle to know our own hearts. Therefore, to think we can know someone else’s is preposterous.
Does this mean we should become cynical towards people? Absolutely not. It means we need the discernment of the Holy Spirit within us as we move forward in relationships. The discerning of spirits is a gift of the Holy Spirit (see 1 Corinthians 12:4-11). We must also learn to exercise wisdom toward others, which comes with spiritual maturity and practice. Simply give people time to prove themselves.
How to Handle Hatred
Once you begin to expect it, the shock lessens. You are no longer in the stage of disillusionment. You can walk securely with Christ because you know who you are in Him. Your identity and security can no longer be shaken. The time will come when you’ll be able to laugh at your enemies. And if you handle the hatred appropriately, Christ can cause your enemies to be at peace with you.
Christ Jesus has taught us SEVEN POINTS on how to handle hatred. (And it’s not about screaming at the devil and calling down fire and brimstone.)
Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” We must forgive, or we cannot be forgiven. There is no greater trap than offense. If you are struggling in this area, I would like to strongly suggest you read the book by John Bevere, The Bait of Satan.
#2. Walk Wisely
When you know you have enemies, you must learn to walk wisely. This actually presses you into Jesus Christ, creating an intense intimacy that will sharpen you. Understand that your enemies will always be looking for an opportunity to degrade and defraud you in everything you say and do. Walking a blameless life is not easy, but it can be done when we walk in the Spirit.
Christ tells us to love our enemies. This is not a term of emotional affection, but rather good will. It’s an agape love that is determined by what we choose. In the following points, this is how Christ teaches us to do it:
Christ makes it clear that we are to bless those who curse us. What do people do? They TALK. They spread lies. They bear false witness. They defraud and defamate your character. They seek to destroy your reputation. They may even verbally assault you. Yet the blessing is always more powerful than the curse. Always. That is a spiritual law. Shouting at the devil isn’t what Christ prescribes here. If you get caught up in that you will find yourself caught in the web of the enemy. Do not take that bait. Start blessing your enemies and speaking life and light over them in Jesus’ name.
#5. Do Good
When people hate you, Christ says to do them good. That means you grab them a coffee, hold the door for them, smile and greet them, wish them well, and go out of your way to do them favors. Your goal is not to get them to be your friend. Your goal is to shed upon them the light of Jesus Christ, that they might seek and find Him.
We are to pray for those who spitefully use us and persecute us. The reality is they may not change. There is never a guarantee that anyone will change. That must come at their own free will and choosing. Although you do all of the above, you could still suffer persecution and hatred. At this point, you have to pray. And only Christ can lead you in such prayers. There is no regimen. You must be led by the Holy Spirit.
Don’t forget to rejoice. Christ even says to be ‘exceedingly glad’. The glory of Christ is resting upon you (see 1 Peter 4:14, KJV).
We are not to be overcome by evil. If we handle hatred as Christ instructs we will overcome evil with good:
Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality. Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits. Recompense to no man evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good, (Romans 12:9-21, KJV).
Those Who Overcame
Aside from Jesus Christ our LORD, who is without question our perfect example, there are three clear testimonies in scripture of those who overcame hatred. I’m going to outline each of them: Joseph, David, and Paul. In each of these stories you will be able to see where hatred begins. It has a root of JEALOUSY (otherwise known as envy). When people are jealous (with ungodly jealousy) they become offended, threatened, and intimidated. It is one of the most evil virtues one could possibly possess.
For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work, (James 3:16, KJV).
The Youngest Brother –> Ruler of Egypt
Genesis chapters 30-50
Talk about hatred. To be hated by the world is one thing, but to be hated by your own brothers is another. Joseph was the youngest and most favored child of Jacob and Rachel. God gave him two dreams at the age of seventeen, which he shared with his brethren. He was hated on two accounts: His father openly favored him, and he now had the apparent favor of God as well. His father’s special treatment, as well as the dreams given him spoke of one thing: he would transcend his brothers in wealth, inheritance, and dominion. As the youngest child, Joseph had no birthright to these things, and they couldn’t stand him. Yet he was God’s chosen. As a result they unanimously plotted to kill him, until a better idea came, at which they sold him into slavery. However, this very plan was precisely what set Joseph upon the path God ordained to save Israel and the surrounding regions. In this way Joseph’s life became a type and shadow of Christ, who gave ‘living bread’ to all those who were perishing.
How did Joseph overcome? Although tempted on numerous accounts, Joseph remained true to the LORD. He feared God. He understood who God was and chose to serve Him, never yielding to the foreign gods of the Egyptians. It was this very fear of God that procured him favor with his master. He walked a blameless life, and God blessed everything he laid his hand to. God prospered him despite his tribulations and trials. It was those very trials and tribulations that brought him to a position of power wherein he ruled all of Egypt, having brought to pass the very dreams God gave him.
Yet near the end of Jospeh’s story we see a moving testimony of salvation, reconciliation, and repentance – all made possible because Joseph chose to forgive his brethren.
Joseph’s example teaches us the Fear of God and Forgiveness
The Shepherd Boy –> King of Israel
1 Samuel 16 – 2 Samuel 1
David’s story is one of the most passionate. A young shepherd boy is appointed to God’s throne, being called out by Samuel the prophet. David is God’s chosen who will rule all of Israel. To this very day he is considered the greatest king who has ever lived.
When God commanded Samuel the prophet to anoint David, he feared for his very life. Saul was on a power binge; a control trip. He was the antithesis of God’s heart, whereas David was the perfect model of it. For this reason alone, they were destined to be arch enemies. Samuel’s fear was valid. He knew that anyone who threatened Saul’s position of power was going to be met with death – whether they be sent by God or not.
David was anointed to be king at a young age, very possibly the same age Joseph was when he received his dreams.
David’s first display of miraculous valor was demonstrated in his slaying of Goliath, the giant who taunted Israel’s armies – which cowered in fear before him. But David feared God. He boldly took the challenge, proclaiming the LORD’s victory. And with stones and a sling, slew him, and cut off his head – precisely as he had said. As a result the Philistines ran in fear and were overcome. David was heralded above Saul in many songs, and it wasn’t long until Saul’s jealousy grew so enraged that he began to plot the murder of David. We are told in scripture that the Spirit of God departed from Saul, having been transferred to David. And instead, Saul received an “evil spirit from the LORD”.
David spent years running from Saul, hiding in caves and even masquerading among enemies to conceal his identity. God was with David on every account. We are told repeatedly in scripture that David ‘behaved himself wisely’. The anointing David carried was one of wisdom, the fear of God, and impeccable integrity. God gave David opportunity to slay Saul on more than one occasion, yet David refrained in the fear of the LORD. Instead, he used those opportunities to prove himself faithful and just. David honored God as well as his enemy, and in turn, God honored David.
In drastic contrast, Saul’s life exploded with demonic rage and witchcraft as he circled the spiritual drain, spiraling into a satanic abyss. What we see in Saul is a pristine example of hatred rooted in jealousy. He slew the prophets and priests. He even sought divination as a means of counsel. Saul was cursed by God, and his life ended cruelly, having fallen upon his own sword (which is very prophetic). Yet David never cursed Saul. In fact, David wept for him and his son, Johnathan, heralding them as the anointed of God.
The trials and tribulations David suffered shaped him and prepared him for the throne. By the time he succeeded Saul, he was a man who knew the LORD intimately in ways He never could have possibly known Him otherwise. David was faithful to God, and lived a life of honor. He honored God by honoring the one who hated him. As a result David’s life was marked by two things: warfare and worship. Many of his intimate experiences with the LORD are chronicled for us in the Psalms.
David’s example teaches us the fear of God, honor, integrity, and faithfulness.
Murderer of the Church –> The Greatest Apostle
Acts chapters 6-28
Paul called himself the least of all the apostles who had an untimely birth. He never walked personally with Christ as the others did. Instead, he was chosen after the ascension of Christ. He considered himself of no reputation at all, claiming that he is who he is by the grace of God.
Paul, as a converted Pharisee, was called to the Gentiles. He tended the churches abroad with great concern and care, as a father would his own children. He was intensely jealous (with a godly jealousy) for Israel’s salvation, proclaiming his love for her salvation above his very own. There is no doubt Paul was a passionate man. As we read his many letters we see this demonstrated in his writing, and in the many accounts he gives.
Paul speaks often of his trials and tribulations, and he glories in them profoundly. He proudly professed himself to carry the marks of the LORD in his own body, having partken of his own sufferings. Paul even seemed eager to suffer for the LORD.
In the end, Paul was beheaded. He is considered one of the greatest apostles, and has authored nearly two-thirds of the New Testament.
Paul’s example is marked by the fear of God, bold obedience, and living sacrifice.
A Great Honor
Do not think it strange when you begin to suffer hatred. But let it be for the LORD’s sake, and begin to recognize the honor Christ has given you in suffering with Him and for Him. I pray you are encouraged by this post. Please know, that when the vultures gather, you do not have to fall prey. When we obey Christ, we can walk in victory – regardless the outcome. Don’t ever sacrifice your eternal life for your earthly one. Just walk in Jesus.
Cheers & Shalom,