We’ve heard the expression so many times that it may have lost its significance: Christianity is about a relationship not a religion. Can I have a relationship with God? Isn’t He too busy for another follower? Do I have anything to offer Him? How does my imperfection mesh with His perfection? What does He expect from me? Tough questions indeed, but let’s start with what we know about relationships. If I want to draw close to God I need to learn everything I can about Him – His personality traits, His character, His likes and dislikes, His purposes, His expectations, and indeed His mysterious facets. Only then can I say truly that I am in a relationship.
If the words of the songs we hear on Sunday mornings are any indication most folks attending a church service (in person or via livestream) are overwhelmingly upbeat in their posture toward God. “I love Jesus! Praise the Lord. Thank you, Lord. God is so good.” It’s a contagious mindset, and one person’s zeal easily infects others. But what happens to us Tuesday evening after another day of battling with an unreasonable boss or long hours rebutting the machinations of a dubious co-worker? How about Thursday at the grocery store when the guy in the BMW coming from the other direction cuts us off and takes the parking spot for which we’ve waited patiently? Life gets real in those moments. Does our vision of God fade as the friction of life overwhelms?
Is my driving goal a consistent and unquenchable thirst to please God above all?
Solomon, the writer of most of Proverbs, has been tagged as the wisest man who ever lived, and his famous ruling on the squabble between two ladies fighting over a baby astounds us in its simplicity and perception. Solomon cut to the chase if you will pardon the pun. In his writings Solomon slipped in a description of God that many of us overlook. We don’t like to think that this God of love we serenade so freely could hate anything. But He does. Here’s the scoop…
There are six things the LORD hates—no, seven things he detests: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that kill the innocent, a heart that plots evil, feet that race to do wrong, a false witness who pours out lies, a person who sows discord in a family.Proverbs 6:16-19 NLT
Some among us try to explain away the intensity of the word hate as being un-God-like, and they substitute something bland like dislike strongly. The four versions of Scripture on my study desk (KJV, ESV, NASB, NLT) all translate the word as hate and it means despise, or abhor. The same word is translated in other places in Scripture as foe, enemy, or odious.
Let’s paint hate with an image. You’ve just purchased a pair of gleaming white tennis shoes with all those tiny treads on the bottom. After removing the toe-stuffing that the manufacturer crammed into each shoe and tying up the laces you’ve exited the front door of your home. Just before you reach the car your foot seems to slip to one side, and you look down to find that you have stepped in a canine landmine left on your sidewalk by the neighbor’s dog. In an instant you’ve grabbed the meaning of hate, despise, and abhor.
The why of God’s intense reaction is wrapped in the single word detests which is rendered as “an abomination to Him” in some translations. The venerable Strong’s Concordance states that word means, “something morally disgusting, an abhorrence; especially idolatry or an idol.” In short the one practicing the Seven Nasties on this list is an idolater —he worships himself in place of God.
Let’s walk through the Seven Nasties and see if our Sunday morning singing and our weekday lives are in sync. The last thing I want to do is to tolerate practices in my life that God hates, especially since I desire to be in a growing relationship with Him.
The phrase describes one who looks down on others and thinks, “I matter, and you don’t!” This person sees himself as the center of the universe and operates from the unreasonable expectation that all else must bend to his wishes. The attitude may include unkindness and irreverence. Bruce K. Waltke in his book, The Book of Proverbs Chapters 1-15, writes, “…no vice stands in sharper opposition to wisdom and fear of God than pride…”
A lying tongue
The lying tongue speaks half-truths, exaggerations, and flattery with ease. The practice includes covering up facts, disguising reality, or purposefully misleading the listener to gain an advantage. The man with a lying tongue is one who sells an item on the swap page but omits the underlying issues and feels no guilt over the transaction. A person marked by a lying tongue often shakes another’s confidence in humanity when the truth finally comes to light. Take note that Jesus describes Satan as both a liar and the father of lies in John 8:44.
Hands that kill the innocent
This describes cruelty and the practice of abusing others. Prejudice fits here with its hatred of all people of a certain creed or color into one large cauldron. Certainly there are bad eggs in every sampling of humanity, but God has placed in each and every person His image. Why kill or abuse the innocent? Is it for entertainment? Likely the deeper purpose is to take advantage of those too weak to fight back in an attempt to further one’s own goals.
A heart that plots evil
This heart beats to the tune of vicious scheming which plays out in devious actions. Adam Clarke in his Commentary on the Bible reveals that this heart, “fabricates such, lays the foundation, builds upon it, and completes the superstructure of iniquity.”
Charles R. Swindoll states, “Nothing we do or say occurs until it has been filtered through the heart within us.” Think of the heart as the moral control center. Solomon pointed out how vital it is that this control center be fully functional.
Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life.Proverbs 4:23 NASB
Jeremiah made a startling statement about the condition of the human heart.
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?Jeremiah 17:9 ESV
Feet that race to do wrong
With mischievous eagerness this person remains vigilant on the prowl for opportunities to do evil. He has escaped consequences for his previous actions, so he runs faster to do evil with each excursion. As he wallows in the muck his fear of God lessens. Solomon captured this thinking.
Because God does not punish sinners instantly, people feel it is safe to do wrong.Ecclesiastes 8:11 TLB
A false witness who pours out lies
The false witness destroys reputations through slander. His purpose is to elevate himself by tearing someone else down. As the gossip pours forth from the false witness those who hear the messages devalue the subject in their own thinking as the human mind seems prone to remembering the dirt rather than digging out the truth.
A person who sows discord in a family
Adam Clarke in his Commentary on the Bible described this sower of discord as, “He who troubles the peace of a family, of a village, of the state; all who, by lies and misrepresentations, strive to make men’s minds evil-affected towards their brethren.”
Every family has its share of dirty laundry and likely has that member who can’t wait for the next gathering to share what he’s heard or seen or inferred. Perhaps he thinks his stature in the group will rise as he reveals matters that ought to remain hidden.
Hatred stirs up strife, But love covers all transgressions.Proverbs 10:12 NASB
What does this practical love, this love that builds rather than destroys, look like? Take a look at Paul’s description in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. Consider this paraphrase.
- Love is patient with people no matter their maturity level.
- Love is kind even under stress.
- Love gives others the benefit of the doubt.
- Love does more than is expected.
- Love serves and keeps on serving.
- Love operates with confidence in God’s power.
- Love does not envy the success of others.
- Love does not boast of personal achievements.
- Love is courteous and respectful to everyone.
- Love does not demand its own way.
- Love is not easily irritated.
- Love does not resent the giftedness of others.
We must understand that Satan’s agenda is the opposite of God’s agenda. While God hates these seven practices Satan loves them. John summarized these agendas for us.
The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.John 10:10 NLT
Satan’s goal is to steal, kill and destroy, and the Seven Nasties we just examined fit well into his playbook. Left unchecked the Seven Nasties give rise to lives marked by diabolical practices, and those lives become pawns in Satan’s campaign to destroy.
Jesus on the other hand offers abundant life, and the opportunity for each of us to have a relationship with Him.
for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord.Ephesians 5:8-10 NASB
Learning and practicing what is pleasing to the Lord seems a better investment of my time than becoming an expert at the Seven Nasties.
 Charles R. Swindoll. Living Beyond the Daily Grind Book II. Dallas: Word, 1988. 483.