Updated: Jun 14, 2021
Do you hate this life? That seems to be a strange question to ask. After all, we are told that the way to be happy in life is to love yourself and love life. The viewpoint of the world is that happiness can be found in getting more of whatever it is you desire. It could be money, sex, drugs, power, and any number of things that you believe will bring you happiness. So this question, “Do you hate this life?” seems to be an odd question from the perspective of the world.
Do you hate this life? This question seems odd not just from the perspective of the world, but to many Christians sitting in some of the biggest churches; will also find this question odd and even foreign to their ideas of the Christian life. They have been told over and over again that they can have their best life now. That they can have health, wealth, and all that their hearts desire. Which seems to be pretty much the same message that we hear from the world.
In all accounts, the question “Do you hate this life?” is one that most people would answer a resounding No! It would be expected for everyone to say that they love life, and only those that are struggling with depression would give the answer Yes.
The problem is, that right in the middle of John chapter twelve, Jesus is asking us this question. He has just been anointed by Mary for His burial. Then we are told about the Triumphal Entry where Jesus came riding a donkey through the streets of Jerusalem and people were shouting praises and calling Him the King of Israel. It would seem to be a joyous time. One that you would expect Jesus to stand up and give a message about hope, or 12 steps to fulfilling your destiny. Some powerful and inspirational messages to encourage the people in their daily lives.
Instead, Jesus starts to tell about His death, and then right in the middle of the chapter we find the question; “Do you hate this life?” The only thing is that it isn’t a question, but it’s a statement.
“The one who loves his life will lose it, and the one who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” John 12:25 HCSB ( https://www.bible.com/72/jhn.12.25.hcsb )
Jesus isn’t asking us a question. He is declaring that if you love this life, then you are going to lose it. The only way to keep your life for all of eternity is to hate it. Hate seems to be a pretty strong word, but we need to understand the circumstances of the events. Jesus is getting closer to the day of His crucifixion and the stress of it all was getting to Him. To the point where Jesus says that His soul is troubled (vs.27). Jesus was going to the cross in a short time to pay for our sins, and it was probably disheartening to see the people shouting praise and call Him the King of Israel. When in just a short time the same people would be calling for His crucifixion.
With this in mind, we can understand what Jesus means by hating our life. We are to hate our sinfulness and every evil part of the life we now live. Not only are we to hate the evil of this world, but we should see that the pleasures and comforts of this world are meaningless when compared to what we have in Christ for all eternity. We should be able to stand with Paul and say that everything in this life is worthless.
“More than that, I also consider everything to be a loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. Because of Him I have suffered the loss of all things and consider them filth, so that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own from the law, but one that is through faith in Christ — the righteousness from God based on faith. My goal is to know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death,” Philippians 3:8-10 HCSB ( https://www.bible.com/72/php.3.8-10.hcsb )
This is what Jesus means when He says that we must hate our lives. That we see our life in Christ as the most important and priceless thing that we have ever received. Our joy is complete in Christ, which means that even if we don’t have health, wealth, or any of the other comforts of the world; we are still joyful because we know the “surpassing value of knowing Christ.” The warning is that we should be careful to not forget where our joy comes from and lose focus ending up like some of the Jews that believed.
“Nevertheless, many did believe in Him even among the rulers, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, so they would not be banned from the synagogue. For they loved praise from men more than praise from God.” John 12:42-43 HCSB ( https://www.bible.com/72/jhn.12.42-43.hcsb )
They loved the attention of men over their relationship with God. The warning is don’t love anything more than knowing Jesus. Don’t allow your situation to dictate the amount of love or faithfulness you have toward your relationship with God. Count everything as loss, and go deeper in relationship with Jesus.
Questions for reflection:
How can we avoid the trap of allowing our joy to depend upon our temporary situation instead of our eternal destiny?
Who’s praise are you seeking? God’s or people’s?