Seven Things the Lord Hates

“There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.” (Proverbs 6:16–19, ESV)  

What a treasure trove — finding seven things that the Lord hates... and they're itemized so succinctly! Now, all we have to do is read them and avoid those activities, right? Easy to say, but a little difficult to do… and nearly impossible to measure! Besides, who wants to live a don’t-do-this-and-don’t-do-that kind of life? That's not merely restrictive, it's downright negative. Certainly, we post-moderns should be able to develop some positive objectives... like today I shall give $10 to the poor, or this week I shall say twelve kind words to a stranger.

These two examples are measurable. You can set up a check-list and account for your accomplishments. By way of contrast, a check-list of negative accomplishments would be nearly endless and of little practical use. What would such a list include? How would it work? "Hmm, let me see, I did not murder today — check! I did not steal today — check!" See the problem?

God does give us plenty of straight-forward and measurable commands, but more often than not he communicates polemically what he wants and what he does not want for us. But this requires that we move beyond sets of rules, beyond check-lists. God wants us to...wait for it... think. I know. That's annoying. But remember the religionists of Jesus time? They found ways of “obeying” the law by its technical letter, but their hearts were far from God. Then along came Jesus. He turned their world upside down by saying things like an impure look qualified as adultery and hate qualified as murder. You see, things like lists and laws are easy to live with, but once our evil hearts hit the mix we unravel pretty quickly. We are decidedly clever about objectives, check-lists, and physical accomplishments, but our hearts are dark. They are scary and uncertain — who can know them? But that's what God wants. He wants our hearts.

Since God wants our hearts, let's begin by taking this list of the things that he hates as literal. (These items may also be figurative, but they are not only figurative.) Second, use this list for polemics. Even a quick inspection shows that God hates pride, lying, and oppression. Adjust your life accordingly. Live nearer to humility, truth, and mercy — those he loves!

I realize that hardened criminals are probably not reading this piece and that most of you live relatively moral lives, lives to be admired among the brethren. But none of us passes through this list of seven hates unscathed. We can all be humbler, more honest and less divisive — can’t we? Knowing how and when, well… no one said it would be easy, but if we hang-in with God by praying, reading his word, and working in a local assembly, his ways will become clearer as we mature in Christ. We shall fail at times, but the opportunities for spiritual excellence shall abound — and why not? He has promised to walk beside us for all of our days.

If we pick-up a sense of where God wants us to walk by looking at his loves and his hates, making choices along the way becomes easier. We will learn to avoid the snares of the devil, but more importantly, we shall learn to walk in righteousness for his name’s sake (Psalm 23:3). And that pleases him to no end.

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