The preaching this past Sunday focused on how to handle haters. All through the message I kept hearing a song in my head. I hate to admit it, but it came from Taylor Swift’s 1989 album, and the song was “Shake It Off.”
You might remember those lyrics. It seems that there were people bugging her, and she replied that, “Players gonna play, play, play, and haters gonna hate, hate, hate…” To which she responds that she is “…gonna shake, shake, shake it off.”
Surprisingly, those silly lyrics do set us up for the Biblical insight that was shared this week.
Responding properly to haters is so important. When we focus on them, so many destructive things happen in our minds, our bodies, and our spirits. Focusing on hatred can trigger reactions in our brains, cause us to respond with our “fright or flight” syndrome, or allow us to flare up with aggression.
However, responding properly to haters requires so much more than just “shaking it off.” There are a number of proactive things that we can do to help the process. That process starts with building a good testimony. A godly testimony takes work. It requires regular attention to both our actions and our attitudes.
So, we need to control our tempers and let faith be our standard for behavior. When there is opposition, we need to see it as an opportunity—a chance to make an impression on the hater. (By the by, that kind of response drives them crazy!)
As we find our strength in the Lord, not in our current situation, we are able to lean back and rely on His provisions for the moment. The Lord will grant us patience if we ask for it. He will infuse us with love if we seek it. He will show us how to care when we really want to lash out.
The bottom line? We have to resist the desire for vengeance. Payback of any kind belongs to the Lord. He will judge the situation. He will evaluate the pain. He will deal with the hurter and the one hurt. We need to leave it in His capable hands.
Romans 12:19 tells us to “Leave room for God’s wrath…” We can’t fill our hearts and minds with anger and resentment, it’s just too costly. We end up paying the fare.
So, this week, whoever came to your mind as you listened to the message (or pops into your thoughts as you read this), take a moment and pray for them. Pray that they will see their error and correct it. Ask the Lord to change their hating heart.
But also take some time to pray for yourself. Ask the Lord to give you a new perspective on the hater. Ask for grace to see them as a sinner needing the mercy of a Savior (just like we do).
And then…shake it off!
Sherry Worel is a Bible teacher at heart and lives a life of ministry. She’s been involved at Coast Hills teaching Women’s LIFE, Bible studies, online courses, devotionals, participating in Upstream conversations, and much more. Having a love for education, Sherry has over 50 years of teaching experience with schools, churches, and mission agencies. As well as earning her Master’s at Talbot Seminary, she rounded out her education with 35 years as Head of School at Stoneybrooke Christian School. Sherry is happiest with a book or fishing pole in hand.