I have been doing some reading in Proverbs. While filled with wisdom, it is not an easy book of the Bible to read. Some parts of it are easy to grasp but many parts take much more than a quick reading to begin to appreciate. They need to be read, and pondered, before the (proverbial!) light switch goes off. And I'll admit that it is easy to reach a point where one just decides to move on and hope that God shines His light the next time through.
That said, I want to share what happened when reading earlier this week. I read Proverbs 6:16-19, which says:
"There are six things that the Lord hates,
When I read the first verse I thought, "Does God hate six things or seven? What's up with that?" But then I grasped the other aspect of the verse, that there are things "the Lord hates" that are an "abomination."
Hate is a pretty strong word, and abomination is even more intense. There are some things that God, who is infinitely patient, has no time for. Then the list:
1. Haughty eyes
2. A lying tongue
3. Hands that shed innocent blood
4. A heart that devises wicked plans
5. Feet that make haste to run to evil
6. A false witness who breathes out lies
7. One who sows discord among brothers
Well, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that not a one of those things is any good. Humanly speaking, if any of those are our habits we will have a hard time getting along with anyone. And on top of that the Bible has taught us that God hates them.
But if these are things God hates, then perhaps the opposite things are ones he finds favorable. Examples of these would be:
1. A humble heart
2. A truthful tongue
3. Hands that bring healing
4. A heart that devises Godly plans
5. Feet that make haste to run from evil
6. A person who lives and breathes the truth
7. One who heals relationships
Again, from a human perspective this is a list that makes sense. These are the kinds of things that strengthen relationships and that most people would say are good qualities for one to cultivate in their character. But, as the TV ads so often said, that's not all.
In the person of Jesus Christ we see each item on the second list lived to perfection. While we might want to do each of the things on the second list each day, every day, we can't. In spite of our best efforts we fall short. But when we look to Christ we see someone who understood perfectly what God hates, and what God loves.
We want to follow God's path but we so easily wander off in this direction, or that. But in Christ we see a life lived with unfailing obedience, not even leaning towards one side or the other of the Father's path.
Yesterday I preached a funeral sermon from 2 Corinthians 5:16-21, which says this in the closing verse:
"For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God."
My reading from Proverbs made it easy to see what God hates. A little pondering pointed to what God loves. And then God turned on the light to point from Proverbs to Christ. And it is only in Christ, whose life was one of perfect obedience, that anyone can possibly find righteousness before God. This is true wisdom, and by faith in Christ may it be yours.
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.