Maybe you’ve seen this kind of interaction.
Child: “I hate you!” or “I hate this!”
Parent: Don’t you ever say that again! We don’t hate anyone or anything, to hate is a horrible thing!
Generally, parents in such situations have gotten it right. To hate—a person or a thing—is almost always a bad thing. And this lesson goes beyond the family unit, with our culture recognizing, in various ways, that hateful behavior and speech is not wise, nor does it lead to a good life. There seems to be something almost hardwired in us to know that hate is ugly…
People level the accusation of hate speech against one another when the argument seems to have gone too far.
We’ve codified it in our laws, labeling some acts as hate crimes.
We cringe at the presence of hate which seems all to common in our dialogue in the realm of ethnic harmony.
And even Taylor Swift sang what many of us have sadly resigned ourselves to accepting in a social media driven culture, “haters gonna hate.”
But is hate always a bad thing?
Are there instances where hate is actually wise, and does, in fact, lead to a good life?
Is it possible that something so ugly can lead to beauty?
16 There are six things Yahweh hates—
no, seven things he detests:
17 haughty eyes,
a lying tongue,
hands that kill the innocent,
18 a heart that plots evil,
feet that race to do wrong,
19 a false witness who pours out lies,
a person who sows discord in a family.
(Proverbs 6:16-19, NLT)
The parent speaking here (Proverbs 6:1), in answer to our questions, believes that hate is sometimes a good thing; that there are instances where it is wise, and leads to a good life; where something normally ugly can lead to beauty.
Listen, I’m not trying to be clever here, the wisdom found here is simple and straightforward. Our good and loving Father here reveals that there are times where it is wise to take feelings of intense and passionate dislike and turn them in the direction of seven behaviors that share one thing in common—they are all sin.
One reads this list— arrogance, speech marked by lies, murder, plans for evil, swiftness in wrongdoing, giving false testimony to someone about someone, and the agony brought about by a family member dividing the family—and you intuitively know they are wrong. You think about the ugliness they are responsible for in the world, and it’s easy to get that you should hate them.
But here’s what you also get: they reveal your guilt.
And that is why this proverbial father is offering what seems to be such basic advice. He knows that his son (and us with him) need reminding. We need sins pointed out, described as ugly, shown as the target of intense dislike by a holy God, so that along with God, we will detest them (and all sin) as well.
In this strange way, as Christians, we are called to meditate beforehand on the sinfulness of sin, so that when tempted, we will feel like God toward it, and not enter into it. Consider how God feels.
He hates sin. He has an intense dislike and aversion toward these things, he cannot endure or abide them, and it is impossible for him to take part in them.
He detests sin. It causes horror and disgust in him, to look upon it is repulsive to him.
So the question is: Do we feel this way about the things listed here? Deep in our bones. Seeing them as he sees them, reacting to them in the way he reacts to them. Dear friend, we must not take sin lightly. In the famous words of John Owen,
Be killing sin,
or it will be killing you.
If you would hate, hate sin; and if you would detest, detest sin. Follow the example of your heavenly Father. This is the way of wisdom. This is the path toward beauty and a good life.
Forgive us for taking sin lightly, when it is so very dangerous. While we want to love what you love, and desire what you desire, we learn from this passage that we also want to hate what you hate, and detest what you detest. These emotions rightly directed are part of living and bringing about a good life. So help us, we pray. Give us discernment, and give us courage. Make us a wise people who bring about your kingdom because we obey your commands and do not neglect your instruction. And thank you for your Son, upon whom you laid all that which you hate and detested, making him to be sin, so that we become your righteousness, and have access to the power of the Spirit who helps us in wise living.
Yes, and very amen, in Jesus’ name.
Pursuing the wise and good life with you,
P.S. If you’d like to study some of the wisdom literature further, I highly recommend the Wisdom Series from The Bible Project, and their resources on the book of Proverbs.
Proverbs Thirty-One Day Reading Plan
August 14: Proverbs ch. 1
Aug. 15: ch. 2
Aug. 16: ch. 3
Aug. 17: ch. 4
Aug. 18: ch. 5
Aug. 19: Grace Day
Aug. 20: ch. 6
Aug. 21: ch. 7
Aug. 22: ch. 8
Aug. 23: ch. 9
Aug. 24: ch. 10
Aug. 25: ch. 11
Aug. 26: Grace Day
Aug. 27: ch. 12
Aug. 28: ch. 13
Aug. 29: ch. 14
Aug. 30: ch. 15
Aug. 31: ch. 16
Sept. 1: ch. 17
Sept. 2: Grace Day
Sept. 3: ch. 18
Sept. 4: ch. 19
Sept. 5: ch. 20
Sept. 6: ch. 21
Sept. 7: ch. 22
Sept. 8: ch. 23
Sept. 9: Grace Day
Sept. 10: ch. 24
Sept. 11: ch. 25
Sept. 12: ch. 26
Sept. 13: ch. 27
Sept. 14: ch. 28
Sept. 15: ch. 29
Sept. 16: Grace Day
Sept. 17: ch. 30
Sept. 18: ch. 31
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