Today is my sister’s birthday, and she does not want attention on her birthday, or so she claims, so I decided to call the day what it is, Cinco de Noviembre. I sent her an e-card and sent her a present via Amazon.com. I felt good about these choices. She needs some attention today– just low key. She’s my big sis! The only one I have! I’m thankful for her. She’s an insightful cookie, and while she’s not a hugger like me, she has her ways of showing loyalty and love. Her love language is service, just as our mother’s was.
What’s your love language? At last Friday’s Tea Talk which happens around my kitchen table or in my living room, one dear friend shared a very interesting thought about love. She said, “The opposite of love is not hate but indifference.” Maybe you’ve heard this before, but I had not. I was very struck by it. It rings true to me for several reasons.
First, logically, love and hate are not opposites because love is an eternal attribute. It is who God is. “God is love” (I John 4:8). Love is the heart of goodness. God gives us love to give to others. On the other hand, hate is the negation of love, the perversion of love. It cannot exist without love, just as evil cannot exist without a pre-existing goodness.
Good and evil are not opposites, just as God and Satan are not opposites. We should never elevate bad and evil to the level of goodness, because evil is not an eternal quality but an abuse of goodness. So it makes sense that we should not elevate hate to the level of being the opposite of love.
Second, if love is the agape of God, unearned loyalty and devotion, unmerited favor, then indifference may be closer to the opposite, although, it cannot logically be the exact opposite of love for the same reasons that good and bad are not opposites. Indifference is a negation of loyalty, attention, respect, concern, devotion, and favor.
One biblical definition of sin is missing the mark. Another is disobedience. As sins, hate and indifference are different kinds of sins. Hate purposefully aims to miss the mark and as thus is also disobedience. It is a sin of commission. Indifference is a sin of disobedience. It won’t even take aim. It is a sin of omission. Both are sins against God and others and against love.
However, in the end, neither are really the opposite of love. “Now abides faith, hope, and love, but the greatest of these is love” (I Corinthians 13: 13). I’m thinking rather abstractly. To be concrete and experiential, both are killers inflicting great suffering. Personally, I resonate with what my friend said because indifference has wounded me more than any words or actions of hate against me (and I have been deeply wounded by words and actions). If someone slices and dices me, at least I know they are thinking of me and that I have an impact upon them. Their hatred may have not distanced themselves from love as much as pure, hard-hearted indifference would. But as long as our hearts are beating, there is hope for change.
Now to consider if I hate or am indifferent toward anyone. I am aware of no hate, but indifference, now there I’d need to do some soul-searching. I don’t think my heart is hard, but I can ignore needs of others. Hmm.
Back to Cinco de Noviembre. My sister didn’t want a big party and lots of attention on this big day of hers when she enters a new decade. However, everyone in the family is giving her some attention, because we love her. There’s no indifference here. The trick is to communicate with her in a love language that she can enjoy. I hope that the fun attention I sent her way warms her heart. Happy Cinco de Noviembre!!
ouch! but so true….thanks for giving me deep things to ponder and take before the throne.