“A time to love and a time to hate; a time for battle and a time for peace.”
Much of human history can be parsed by the wars that nations have waged against one another. And while many wars in the history of man have been about the expansion of power, there is great wisdom here from Solomon when he talks about a time to go to war and a time to make peace. There is indeed a time when war is justified for the common good of mankind — resisting the Nazi’s during World War II, for instance (and there are numerous other examples).
Yet, this verse is not just about geopolitical matters, it is about personal struggles as well. There is a time to love one another, but Solomon makes it very clear that there is also a time for hatred. In our modern society, hatred is considered a bad thing and something to be repressed, yet that is not the testimony of Scripture (so long as that hatred is properly directed). Indeed, we are to love our neighbors as ourselves (Matthew 22:39) and we are to love our enemies (Luke 6:27), so in what context are we supposed to hate?
We are to hate evil (Psalm 97:10; Amos 5:15). We are to hate the works of those who tempt us to sin (Revelation 2:6). We are to hate the things of this world (Luke 14:26). We are to hate falsehood (Psalm 119:163). In short, we are to hate sin and to strive against it. Is there ever a place to express hatred toward people? At times, but here we must be careful for we do not always know who God will eventually call to faith in himself. Even so, the Bible speaks about hating those who openly stand against God and his Saints (Psalm 129:5; 139:21).
The challenge for the believer is to discern between that which we will love and that which we will hate. Jesus says that we cannot serve two masters for we will end up loving one and hating the other (Matthew 6:24), so begin by asking yourself, whom do you serve? When an action comes in conflict with God’s command in Scripture, to which do you give priority? We often say we love God but then bind ourselves in sin…if that is the case, whom do you really love by your actions? Repent.
Solomon reminds us that there is a time for love and a time for hatred. The time for love is when you are doing the things of God and attending to His Word. The time for hatred is when you are gazing upon your own sins. The sign of maturity, though, is not only keeping those two things straight, but acting upon it. There comes a point in time that if you really hate something, you will strive to keep it out of your life. Yet, how often we do not do so. Repent if these words apply to you.