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What Does the Bible Say About Spite?
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What Does the Bible Say About Spite?

Spite is a feeling of hatred, bitterness, or desire to hurt someone. It often stems from feelings of anger, jealousy, or resentment. The Bible has a lot to say about spite and how Christians should respond to feelings of spite.

In this post, we’ll take a comprehensive look at relevant Bible verses and passages to understand what God wants us to know about spite.

Introduction

As Christians, we are called to reflect the character of Christ and walk in love (Ephesians 5:1-2). But when someone wrongs or hurts us, it can be tempting to respond in anger or seek revenge. Spite – wanting to “get back” at someone or see them suffer – is a natural human response.

But the Bible makes it clear that spiteful actions and attitudes are sinful and destructive.

Christians must fight against feelings of spite, not embrace them. Why? Because spite:

  • Leads us into sin and disobedience against God
  • Harms others and poisons relationships
  • Reveals distrust in God’s justice and sovereignty
  • Damages our own spiritual lives and witness

Rather than acting on spite, God calls us to trust Him, release bitterness, and extend grace. This brings glory to God, benefits others, and enables us to walk in freedom.

As we explore what the Bible teaches, keep these key points in mind:

Key Takeaways:

  • Spite is a sinful attitude that we must reject
  • God commands us to forgive others and release bitterness
  • Trusting God’s justice frees us from seeking revenge
  • We overcome evil with good by acting in love
  • Spite damages us spiritually and harms our witness
  • God can redeem hurt for His purposes and glory

With these truths as a framework, let’s dive into the Scriptures to understand God’s perspective on spite.

What does the bible say about spite?

Top Ten Bible Verses About Spite

  1. Leviticus 19:18 – “You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.”
  2. Proverbs 10:12 – “Hatred stirs up strife, But love covers all sins.”
  3. Proverbs 20:22 – “Do not say, ‘I will recompense evil’; Wait for the Lord, and He will save you.”
  4. Ecclesiastes 7:9 – “Do not hasten in your spirit to be angry, For anger rests in the bosom of fools.”
  5. Romans 12:17 – “Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men.”
  6. Romans 12:19 – “Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord.”
  7. Ephesians 4:31 – “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.”
  8. Colossians 3:8 – “But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth.”
  9. Hebrews 12:15 – “looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled;”
  10. 1 Peter 3:9 – “not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing.”

Old Testament Teachings on Spite

The Old Testament provides foundational insight into how spite fits into God’s moral law. Several passages condemn spiteful actions and attitudes, commanding love and warning against vengeance:

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“Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.” (Leviticus 19:18)

This command makes it clear we should not act on spiteful feelings toward anyone, especially fellow believers. We cannot simultaneously love others while holding onto bitterness that seeks to hurt them.

“Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when they stumble, do not let your heart rejoice…” (Proverbs 24:17)

Seeking happiness in another’s misfortune is spiteful. As Christians we are called to compassion, not delighting when adversaries suffer.

“Do not say, “I’ll do to them as they have done to me; I’ll pay them back for what they did.”” (Proverbs 24:29)

Here the Bible expressly forbids us from vengeance motivated by spite. Even when wronged, we cannot justify spiteful retaliation.

“Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.” (Romans 12:19)

This verse in Romans quotes Deuteronomy 32:35. Together they remind us that only God has the right to avenge wrongdoing. Spite usurps God’s role, taking justice into our own hands.

These passages reveal that spite has no place for the follower of God. He commands us to love others, release bitterness, and trust Him to judge rightly.

Spiteful Examples in the Old Testament

In the Old Testament we find examples of people acting spitefully, illustrating the destructiveness of this attitude:

  • Joseph’s brothers: Driven by jealousy, Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery in Egypt (Genesis 37:18-28). This cruel act was a terrible sin motived by spite.
  • Saul’s attempts to kill David: Saul repeatedly tried to kill David out of jealousy and spite, even though David had been loyal to him (1 Samuel 18:10-11).
  • Haman’s plot against the Jews: Angered that Mordecai refused to honor him, spiteful Haman convinced the king to issue an edict to extermination the Jews (Esther 3:5-6).

These examples portray the bitterness, hatred, and desire for revenge that characterize spite. They illustrate how spite birth sinful actions, destroys relationships, and dishonors God.

Teachings on Spite in the New Testament

While the Old Testament establishes spite as contrary to God’s law, the New Testament goes further. Through His life and teachings, Jesus called His followers to a higher standard – rejecting spite and demonstrating radical love for enemies:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.” (Matthew 5:38-39)

In this famous passage from the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus referenced the Old Testament law of exact retribution, then repudiated it. As Christians we are not to retaliate against those who wrong us or seek to “get even.”

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:43-45)

We are called to an even higher standard under Christ – loving and praying for our enemies. This excludes spiteful attitudes that see adversaries as deserving harm.

“Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.” (Romans 12:14)

Rather than cursing our persecutors with spite, we are to bless them through our words and actions.

“Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord.” (Romans 12:17-19)

This powerful passage instructs us not to repay evil with evil, again quoting God’s prerogative to judge, not ours. This precludes spiteful desires to see harm come to those who’ve wronged us.

Jesus and the apostles called Christians to reject the bitterness and vengeance of spite. We are to overcome evil with good (Romans 12:21), trust God’s justice, and show unprecedented mercy to our enemies.

Consequences of Spite

What happens when we embrace spiteful attitudes and actions? The Bible warns of several dangers and consequences:

  • Spite spreads sin: Spiteful actions spread sin to others. Overcome evil with good, don’t multiply it (Romans 12:21).
  • Spite damages others: Wishing harm on others enables their suffering. This is unloving and fails to value them as God’s creations.
  • Spite hurts us spiritually: Spite is destructive to our own souls. Harboring bitterness defiles us inwardly far more than external wrongs (Matthew 15:11, 18-20).
  • Spite poisons relationships: Spite destroys fellowship and unity, stirring up strife. A dispute festers when hatred lingers (Proverbs 10:12).
  • Spite is worldly, not spiritual: Spite acts on fleshly impulses, not the Spirit. It is a mark of immaturity, not growth (1 Cor. 3:3).

The Bible makes it abundantly clear that nothing positive comes from spiteful attitudes and actions. There are only negative consequences – for others, our relationships, and our own souls.

Overcoming Spite with Truth

How should Christians respond when feelings of spite arise? The Bible provides powerful truths to help us short-circuit spite:

  • Pray for those who’ve wronged you: Praying for others softens our hearts and aligns them with God’s (Matthew 5:44).
  • Trust God’s justice: God alone has the right to avenge. Trust that He will judge rightly in His timing (Romans 12:19).
  • Remember Christ’s mercy: We owe any standing before God to His mercy on us. Cannot we extend mercy to others (Matthew 18:23-35)?
  • Walk in forgiveness: Forgiveness frees us from sin’s grip. Release others just as God released you (Ephesians 4:32).
  • Realign your desires: Use Scripture to renew your mind. Desire others’ repentance, not harm (Romans 12:2).
  • Look for redemptive purpose: Know that God works to redeem your hurt for purposes and glory you can’t yet see.

With God’s help, we can overcome spiteful attitudes that seek to hurt others. By living out these truths, we can walk in freedom and be powerful witnesses to God’s love.

God’s Redemptive Power Over Spite

Not only does God call us to reject spite, but He offers redemptive power over it. What others intend for evil, He can transform for good:

  • Joseph: His brothers acted from spite, but God redeemed it to save many lives (Genesis 50:20).
  • **David:**Though Saul acted from envy and spite, David refused vengeance, trusting God (1 Samuel 24).

Jesus: The ultimate example. Jesus bore our sins and overcame evil with good at Calvary (1 Peter 2:21-23).

Through faith, the Holy Spirit empowers us to overcome evil with good, following Jesus’ example. This brings glory to God and models His redemptive love.

Conclusion

The Bible clearly instructs Christians to renounce spiteful attitudes and actions against others. Spite is rooted in bitterness and contradicts the love, mercy, and forgiveness God commands us to exhibit, even toward enemies. Ultimately, spite stems from distrust in God to judge justly. It poisons our souls, harms others, and multiplies sin.

As Christians, our calling is higher – to entrust justice to God, overcome evil with good, and trust in His redemptive purposes.

When we feel tempted toward spite, we can pray, walk in forgiveness, realign our desires with Scripture, and look for God’s redemptive plans. Rejecting spite enables us to reflect Christ even in the face of wrongs. By God’s grace, we can become powerful examples of His transformative love.

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Pastor duke taber
Pastor Duke Taber

Pastor Duke Taber

All articles have been written or reviewed by Pastor Duke Taber.
Pastor Duke Taber is an alumnus of Life Pacific University and Multnomah Biblical Seminary.
He has been in pastoral ministry since 1988.
Today he is the owner and managing editor of 3 successful Christian websites that support missionaries around the world.
He is currently starting a brand new church in Mesquite NV called Mesquite Worship Center, a Non-Denominational Spirit Filled Christian church in Mesquite Nevada.