“There are six things the Lord hates…” (Proverbs 6:16)
Driving has a way of bringing out the worst in us.
You know what I mean.
I was driving behind a car and spotted a bumper sticker on the fender that read, “Honk If You Love Jesus!” I honked. The driver gave me the finger.
I thought about that the other day when I cut somebody off at a busy intersection. The guy started honking, waving his arms, offering unkind gestures, and yelling. Though I couldn’t hear him, I read his lips in the rearview mirror. He appeared to be enunciating quite clearly and convincingly. From what I could tell, his vocabulary would make a truck driver blush. So I slowed down. That got him really mad. And then I remembered the “Love God and Be Kind to One Another” bumper sticker on my fender. If it weren’t for the “Real Men Wrestle at Valley” bumper sticker on the other side, he probably would have followed me into the grocery store.
If you’re like me, driving has a way of bringing out the worst in you. Have you ever wished you had a tank? Then they’d know who really owns the road! A bazooka would be nice on occasion. Ba-boom!
Somebody gave me this “Pocket Terminator” a few years ago. It’s really great. It’s designed to give you the feeling of blowing away the cars and drivers that really tick you off. It’s got a tommy gun. It’s got a ray gun. But my favorite is the missile launcher.
I was thinking of bringing it to session meetings.
Sometimes I’m glad I don’t live in California. From what I hear, folks really carry those things with them while driving on the freeways.
Yes, driving has a way of bringing out the worst in us. It’s that original sin thing. We’ve got this inclination within us that started way back in the garden with Adam and Eve to say and do things that are really bad. And every once in a while, something or somebody brings it out in us.
Strange as it may seem, God gets really ticked off too. Some things and some people have a way of bringing out a side of God that we want to overlook. No, God doesn’t sin. Yet He gets very angry about sin. Proverbs 6:16-19 puts it this way:
There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to Him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers.
I like the way Eugene H. Peterson paraphrased it:
Here are six things God hates, and one more that He loathes with a passion: eyes that are arrogant, a tongue that lies, hands that murder the innocent, a heart that hatches evil plots, feet that race down a wicked track, a mouth that lies under oath, a troublemaker in the family.
Knowing God is love (1 John 4:8), it’s hard for us to think of God hating. So it’s important to clarify God’s hatred as focusing on what rather than who. God doesn’t hate sinners (who) but He hates sin (what).
For example, God loves thieves but hates stealing. God loves gossipers but hates gossip. God loves sexual sinners but hates sexual sin. God loves murderers but hates murder. Or as God in Jesus summed it up for Nicodemus, “God loves the world” (see John 3). The world includes you, me, and them. God came in Jesus to live, die, and live again for you, me, and them. He came to save all of the above and while affirming His love for all of the above, He doesn’t affirm all behavior. Indeed, God hates some of the things that we say and do.
“God is love,” wrote J. Vernon McGee (Proverbs, 1991), “but He hates evil.” Dr. McGee explained,
We can see this same thing in our human relation ships. You love your little child, but you hate the fever that is racking his little body. You love your child, but you hate the mad dog with the frothing mouth that comes into your yard and attempts to bite your little child. If you love your child, you will hate the mad dog. As long as there is a world of contrasts, a world in which sin has entered, we will love the right and hate the wrong.
According to the list in Proverbs 6:16-19, our Lord hates what hurts. God hates anything that hits, harms, hurts, and divides to conquer.
God is love. That’s why He hates anything that doesn’t encourage, enable, and enflesh love. He hates what hurts.
You may have heard about the three pastors who confessed their biggest sins to each other. “I confess,” the first said, “I dip into the collection.” “I confess,” the second said, “I’ve been having an affair.” “I confess,” the third said, “I’m a gossip.”
Most of us don’t actually shed blood these days. More often than any of us will admit, we occasionally use words that cause others to bleed emotionally, intellectually, or spiritually. In “Words That Hurt, Words That Heal: How to Choose Words Wisely and Well” (Imprimis, January 1996), Rabbi Joseph Telushkin of the Synagogue of the Performing Arts in Los Angeles addressed the problem:
Over the past decade, whenever I have lectured throughout the country on the powerful, and often negative, impact of words, I have asked audiences if they can go for 24 hours without saying any unkind words about, or to, anybody.
Invariably, a minority of listeners raise their hands signifying “yes,” some laugh, and quite a large number call out, “no!”
I respond by saying, “Those who can’t answer ‘yes’ must recognize that you have a serious problem. If you cannot go for 24 hours without drinking liquor, you are addicted to alcohol. If you cannot go for 24 hours without smoking, you are addicted to nicotine. Similarly, if you cannot go for 24 hours without saying unkind words about others, then you have lost control over your tongue.”
Then there are the reports of what we’ve said. If you’re like me, you’re often surprised to hear what you’ve said. You can’t believe you said it because you didn’t say it. That’s why I’ve grown very cautious about reports of what others have said. The reports usually twist the realities to fit the prejudices and passions of who is reporting.
Then there are the reports of what others have said. Those reports are usually intended to persuade us to take sides with who is reporting. I’ve grown very cautious about reports of what others have said. The reports usually twist the realities to fit the prejudices and passions of who is reporting.
I’ll never forget the guy who used to tell me bad things about everybody else but him and me. It didn’t take long for it to dawn on me that he probably said bad things about me to everybody else. If he was always talking so negatively about everybody else, I figured he must be talking negatively about me to others. So I talked with an older woman about the things that he was saying about her and she talked with me about the things that he was saying about me. And we discovered he was saying bad things about us in order to drive a wedge between us. He was trying to divide us. To use the description of the kind of person portrayed in Proverbs 6:16-19 by Dr. Rylaarsdam of the University of Chicago, he had the “qualities that make up a sneak and a troublemaker.”
So what do we do with somebody like that? What do we do with somebody who hits, harms, hurts, and divides to conquer? What do we do with somebody whose behavior is hated by our Lord?
We do exactly what God told us to do with that kind of a person (Romans 16:17-18):
I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people.
Simply, if we hang out with dogs, we’ll catch fleas.
God hates what hurts. But I can’t stop without saying God still loves the people who are causing the pain. He hates their behavior but He loves them. Again, He loves the world. You. Me. Them.
Leslie and I saw Leaving Las Vegas when it was in the theaters. We went because it had been winning all kinds of awards — best film, best actor, beat actress, and so on. And while we would agree Nicolas Cage and Elizabeth Shue gave some of the best acting performances that we’ve even seen, we couldn’t recommend the movie because it was so crude and vulgar. It was a naked depiction of the most debauched realities of life in America’s gutters.
Yet at the risk of a few holier-than-thou types condemning me for mentioning it at all, I was struck by something that may or may not have been intended by the script writers, producers, director, actors, and actresses. If it was intended, it betrays sheer genius. If it wasn’t intended, it’s one of those they-meant-it-for-evil-but-God-used-it-for-good things.
Leaving Las Vegas is the story of an alcoholic who goes to Las Vegas to drink himself to death. He meets a hooker. They fall in love. But it doesn’t change his determination to drink himself to death. It doesn’t keep her off the streets and out of the sack.
Here’s what struck me. Despite being repulsed by their decadent behavior (what), an affection began to develop within me for the characters (who). What became less important to me than who. The movie humanized the drunk and the hooker. And I found myself wanting him to live and wanting them to marry and live happily ever after. I wanted something better for them.
Intended or not, that was the genius of the movie. They were humanized. He wasn’t just a drunk. She wasn’t just a hooker. They were much, much, much more than that. They were God’s children. And like all of God’s children engaged in bad behavior, God through Jesus continued to love nonetheless.
God loves us anyway. I think of how Paul wrote, “God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Or as someone once said, “Jesus spread out His arms and said, ‘I love you this much.'”
As I watched that film and as I see people who are hurt and people who are hurting, I think of the journalist who watched a nun as she cleaned the gangrenous sores of a wounded soldier. He said to the nun, “I wouldn’t do that for a million dollars.. She quickly replied, “Neither would I.”
Jesus would. Christians — little Christs — would. Read Matthew 25. Yes, God hates fleas. But He loves dogs.
It’s like Fred Rogers used to say, “I love you just the way you are.”
That’s what God proved on the cross in Jesus.
That’s what God says to us by the witness of His Holy Spirit.
While God loves us too much to leave us just the way we are, He loves us just the way we are nonetheless.
That’s the good news for you, me, and them.
That’s why we want to know Him.
That’s why we want everybody to know Him.
He gets rid of the hate when we love Him and love like Him.

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