Oct 04 - The Seven Things God Hates/Loves

The Seven Things God Hates/Loves

October 4, 2015

Proverbs 6:16-19

 

THE SEVEN THINGS GOD HATES LOVES

October 4th, 2014

 

A Bible group study leader says to his group, “What would you do if you knew you only had four weeks left before the great Judgment Day?” A gentleman says, ”I would go out into my community and minister the Gospel to those that have not yet accepted the Lord into their lives.” “Very good!” says the group leader. One lady speaks up and says enthusiastically, “I would dedicate all of my remaining time to serving God, my family, my church, and my fellow man with a greater conviction.” “That's wonderful!” the group leader comments. One gentleman in the back finally speaks up loudly and says, “I would go to my mother-in-laws house for the four weeks.” The group leader asks, “Why your mother-in-law’s home?” “Because that will make it the longest four weeks of my life!”

 

 I just wanted to reiterate something that I said in a previous sermon.  We need to think of what the Bible calls “sin” not so much in terms of arbitrary rules and negative regulations.  We should think of “sin” as something that God hates because it hurts or damages someone he loves.  So we “sin” when we harm either ourselves or others based on our own selfishness or lack of self-control.

 

There is no shortage of lists that describe the kind of actions or attitudes, the sins, that God hates.  For example, in Proverbs 6, we find a list of seven things that God hates.

 

There are six things that YHWH hates, seven things that are an abomination to him:

Proud eyes

A lying tongue

Hands that spill innocent blood

A heart that plots evil

Feet that quickly run to do evil

A false witness, one who lies (in court)

And a person who sows conflict …                                                                               Proverbs 6:16-19

 

What struck me about this list was that Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount, proclaimed God’s blessing, that is, God’s loving action, toward those who often are in direct contrast to the list in Proverbs.

 

Proverbs 6 – God hates …

Matthew 5 – God loves (blesses) …

 

 

Pride

The humble

Lies

The poor in spirit

(nothing to hide)

Murder

The pure in heart

Evil intentions

Those who yearn after what is right

Hurtful actions

The merciful

Promotion of injustice

Those who mourn (personal loss, but also who mourn injustice, social injustice)

Creating conflict

Peacemakers

 

Another list of 7 can be found in Psalm 15. 

 

Who is it, O God, who will abide in your dwelling place and live on your holy heights?

 

It is the one who lives with integrity,

who does what is right, and

who speaks the truth from his heart.

 

Those who can abide in God’s presence are people of integrity who do and say what is right.

 

(It is the one) who does not speak slanderous words,

who does not act wickedly toward his friends, and

who does not denigrate those close to him.

 

Those who can abide in God’s presence are those who refuse to gossip or otherwise act in any way that is harmful to another person.

 

(It is the one) who does not take notice of the depraved person but holds in high esteem those who revere God.

 

Those who can abide in God’s presence will not place a lot of importance on what individuals who want nothing to do with God do or say, but hold in high regard those who really revere and serve God.

 

By the way, this point also speaks of the fact that those who abide in God’s presence are those who themselves revere and serve God.

 

(It is the one) who will speak the truth in court and won’t change his story even if it damages himself.

 

Those who can abide in God’s presence will speak the truth, even if it’s in a court of law, and even if the truth could be disadvantageous to themselves.  

 

(It is the one) who does not exploit others with (high) interest rates, and

who will not accept a bribe, which (always) hurts the innocent.

 

Those who can abide in God’s presence are those who have the right attitude toward money so that they will refuse exploit others or be bribed in order to attain more.

 

The one who does these things will never be moved.

                                                                        Psalm 15

 

The questions which begins this psalm should be of great interest to anyone who desires to experience God’s presence.

 

In the psalmist’s case, the question was likely concerning the temple in Jerusalem, where God was thought to reside.  But for us, the ability to abide with God, that is, to be in the place where God is present, both in this world as we go through our lives, as well as in the spirit world which we enter at the time of our death.

 

In other words, there are those who will not, in this life, or in the life to come, abide in God’s presence, based on the choices that they make. 

 

As it happens, Psalm 15 can be broken down into 7 things that determine whether a person can or cannot dwell in God’s presence. 

 

Those who are not able to dwell with God …

Those who are able to dwell with God …

 

 

Do wrong and lie

Do and say what is right

Gossip and slander

Speak positively about others

Harm others

Help others

Think highly of reprobates (those who want nothing to do with God)

Think highly of the godly (those who seek after and follow God)

Promote justice

(lie in court) 

Promote justice even at personal cost (Speak the truth in court even at personal cost)

Exploit others in business

(Take advantage of others to make money

Deal fairly in business

Are corrupt

(accept bribes to the detriment of the innocent)

Are incorruptible

 

Those who cannot dwell with God are those who do things God hates.  Those who can dwell with God are those who do the things that God loves.

 

These are biblical lists of 7, but there are also those outside of the Bible.  Way back in 590 AD, Pope Gregory I, the first monk to become pope, published a list of 7 deadly sins … or the 7 sins that God particularly hates.  If you have a Roman Catholic background, you might be familiar with them.

 

Wrath (= unmitigated rage); Greed; Sloth (= laziness); Gluttony; Envy; Lust; Pride

 

If you look at the exact opposite of these so-called 7 deadly sins, which, by the way all are promoted in many of the programs we watch on TV, we can find 7 virtues that God loves for us to display:

 

THE SEVEN DEADLY SINS

SEVEN HEAVENLY VIRTUES

 

 

Pride

Humility

Wrath (rage)

Forgiveness

Greed

Generosity

Sloth (laziness)

Diligence

Gluttony

Self-restraint

Envy

Empathy

Lust

Purity

 

Moving on, a vicar or canon at the Westminster Abby by the name of Frederick Donaldson preached a sermon he entitled “the 7 social evils” on March 20th, 1925. 

 

The man was known as Eric to his family and as the “Red Vicar” to his detractors.  Red was a slight, implying that Donaldson was a communist, which he wasn’t.  However, he did have a lot of concern for social justice and equality, which some people didn’t like.

 

Politics without principle

Wealth without work

Pleasure without conscience

Knowledge without character

Commerce without morality (Business without ethics)

Science without humanity

Worship without sacrifice

 

In April of that same year (1925), the list in the sermon was published in a newspaper, and by October a friend of Mahatma Gandhi sent him this same list, which Gandhi promptly published under the heading “the 7 social sins.”  The picture I added is a photo of Gandhi that was taken in that same year, 1925.

 

Both Donaldson as well as Gandhi thought that these 7 things that God hates actually lead to violence or one way or another.  In other words, when individuals or states or societies do any one or more of these things, others get hurt in the process.

 

Unprincipled politics will lead to corruption and conflict and mistrust.  Lies during an election campaign result in cynicism on the part of the electorate.  Much of the suffering in Africa is the direct result of corrupt and greedy politicians who use the military to oppress their own people. The saber-rattling of countries like North Korea could easily result in a real military conflict.  The oppression of the populace by the political leaders can lead to rebellion.

 

Wealth without work is the principle of crime.  Shoplifting, theft, robbery, scamming people out of their savings, … all of these are simply ways of getting money or wealth on the back of others without having to actually work for it. 

 

Wealth without work in business will often lead to oppression.  I think of those who themselves don’t do much, but make a lot of money on the back of those who they pay very little.  Sweatshops.

 

Some rich people simply don’t have to work because others are doing the work for them.  They might have to make some decisions on how to keep their income from drying up, but they don’t have to truly work for anything.

 

It is also a strange world in which we pay individuals insane amounts of money in the entertainment or sports business, sometimes they make more in a year than a 50 people working a whole lifetime.   

 

The unscrupulous pursuit of pleasure will either destroy one’s own health and spirit - either through addiction, gluttony, or the loss of any self-worth.  Or, such pursuit will use others, take advantage of them and exploit them – all in an attempt to receive pleasure.

 

Knowledge is a form of power.  If it is used in a self-serving manner, it becomes manipulative and predatory.  It will be used to control others or make them do what one wants. 

 

Advertising is just one such example – adds can be misleading, full of lies, and yet effective in getting people to purchase something. 

 

Knowledge without character will breed pride. 

 

People who have knowledge but no scruples will use it as a weapon against others.  They will use it to argue circles around others.  They will use it to put others down and even destroy them.

 

A business man needed some same-day dry cleaning before he left on a trip.  He remembered one store with a huge sign, “One-Hour Dry Cleaners.”  Even though it was on the other side of town, he drove out of his way to drop off his suit.  After filling out the tag, he told the clerk, “I need this in an hour.”
She replied, “I can’t get this back to you until Thursday.”
“I thought you did dry cleaning in an hour?”
“No,” she replied, “that’s just the name of the store.”

 

Unethical business practices will always damage the environment, the consumer, or both. 

 

Corporate mentality is often compared to that of psychopaths – where the bottom line obliterates any ability to empathize, to care, to be concerned for the repercussions of one’s actions on others.

 

I am reminded of the 32 year old Martin Shkreli, a very wealthy hedge fund manager and CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals, a company that had obtained the manufacturing license for Daraprim, an out-of-date medicine used to treat patients with malaria, some cancers and AIDS.  He announced last week that the price of the medicatin would be raised from $ 13.50 a pill to $ 750 a pill, a 5,455 % increase. 

 

The inhumane use of science will lead to destruction and suffering, human and animal. 

 

It leads to such things as weapons of mass destruction, whether nuclear, chemical or biological. 

 

It leads to the destruction of human life based on convenience. 

 

And worship or faith or religion that is not about denying oneself in order to serve others will become demanding, or cruel, or controlling or predatory, or even violent.

 

While someone might think that their worship is sacrificial if they blow themselves up in order to kill someone else, that is not what Donaldson or Gandhi meant. 

 

They both thought of sacrifice in terms of treating others with kindness, with compassion.  In other words, faith is in action.  Worship of God leads to service to others. 

 

If we look at the opposite of these “sins”, these things that God hates, they are found in the various adjectives:

 

Principled conduct.

Industrious conduct (hard working).

Moderate conduct.

Noble conduct, that is conduct that shows character, quality, or substance.

Moral conduct.

Humane conduct.

Sacrificial conduct.

 

As I looked at all these lists, I thought that I could summarize it all in one word:  Integrity.  Integrity really means acting on the basis of our conscience.  That is, we live and act according to our inner convictions, the things that we think are moral and right.  We live out in our daily lives our values.

 

We can approach this whole topic in a negative way.  “What are the things in my life that God hates, and how can I get rid of them?”  There is absolutely nothing wrong with asking a question like this. 

 

For example, let’s say I’m partying too much.  I know that this is not something that God thinks is good, because in the process I’m damaging myself.

 

Listen, my child, be wise and give serious thought to the way you live.  …  Drunkards and gluttons will be reduced to poverty.  If all you do is eat, drink and sleep, you will soon be wearing rags.                                 Proverbs 23:19-20

 

[Jesus accused of being a drunkard and a glutton, could be in direct reference to these verses in Proverbs]

 

Or let’s say, I’m lazy.  I know that God does not approve of this either. 

 

Make it your goal to live quietly, do your work, and earn your own living, as we already told you.   Then your way of life will win respect from those outside [the church], and you won't have to depend on anyone else for what you need.                                   1 Thessalonians 4:11-12

 

Or what about, if I compromise my own principles, just to make money? 

 

Better is a poor man who retains his integrity than the rich man who has compromised it.       Proverbs 28:6

 

So, if I’m a party animal or a sloth or greedy, I could tell myself, OK, I’ll stop doing this.  And sometimes that works.

 

Perhaps more effective is when we also find out why we are acting out, or why we are parked on the couch, or why we are willing to compromise our integrity for money or pleasure.

 

So we could ask ourselves, “What are the reasons why I’m not living as God would have me to?”  Did my parents overindulge me?  Am I seeking attention or acceptance?  Am I killing some kind of emotional pain?  Am I avoiding failure?  Is what I get out of my lifestyle choices worth more to me than changing?

 

So, if we know why we are not living as God would have us to, the underlying cause, so to speak, we may be able to work on our self-image or our self-acceptance or healing of our past as a first step toward stopping our bad behaviour.

 

And then there is another way of approaching this topic, and that is to simply become more active in doing what is right. 

 

The apostle Paul, prayed that this would happen in the lives of the believers in the churches he planted.

 

However, there are a few things that Paul takes for granted.  One of them, is that his readers have found their moral foundation and compass in God, in Jesus. 

 

Paul also took for granted that his readers are holding to a moral foundation, and hope to be people of integrity, rather than being people who are mired in criticism, scorn, bitterness, anger, and compromise.

 

He takes for granted that his readers are not compartmentalizing their lives … they want to act the same at work or school as they do at home; they want to be the same in public as they are in private.  

 

Paul takes for granted that his readers live for others instead of only looking out for themselves.  The golden rule that Jesus gave us … to treat others as we ourselves would want to be treated … cannot be followed without genuine compassion.

 

So this is what he writes to them:

 

May the Lord cause you to increase and abound in love for one another, and for all people … that your hearts may be established in holiness…          

1 Thessalonians 3:12

 

It is my prayer that your love will grow more and more, along with your knowledge and discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless …                                     Philippians 1:9-10

 

 

Now if we take these four lists and we summarize in particular the things that God loves, we come up with the following list of virtues … and, hopefully ask ourselves:

 

WHAT VIRTUE CAN I INTENTIONALLY WORK ON INCORPORATING MORE INTO MY LIFE?

 

Virtues related to my focus / intent?

(Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness)

 

Right / Good

Ethical

God-honouring /

 

Virtues related to my predisposition?

 

Humble

Gentle (non-aggressive)

Peaceful / peace promoting (non-violent)

Forgiving / patient (non-retaliatory

 

Virtues related to my lifestyle?

 

Pure

Self-restrained

Moderate

Principled

 

Virtues related to my speech?

 

Truthful

Positive / Encouraging

 

WHAT VIRTUE(S) CAN I INTENTIONALLY WORK ON INCORPORATING MORE INTO MY LIFE?

 

Virtues related to my work?

 

Incorruptible

Just

Fair

Industrious

 

Virtues related to my actions?

 

Merciful / Compassionate / Empathetic

Loving / Helpful

Humane / Kind

Generous

 

Perhaps it would be good if we took a closer look at this list and ask ourselves where we can do more to display ONE particular virtue in our own lives and then plan to work it into our daily schedule.

 

So, instead of going partying on Friday night, maybe I’ll go work out at the gym with a buddy. 

 

Instead of being so consumed with making money, no matter what, I start to support a charity, or become generous toward the needy. 

 

Or I stock up on different groceries (no junk food), and buy a few extra ones for the foodbank – last day today for the food hampers, but can still contribute every Sunday. 

 

Or I have a to-do list and I accomplish one of these each day, or perhaps one every week. 

 

I think it’s easier to build something positive into our lives as a way of overcoming our “sins,” than to fitfully try not to do them again. 

 

Of course that doesn’t mean that we can’t catch ourselves when we say something mean, or when we are tempted to cheat on an exam, or when we are contemplating overcharging a client, and challenge ourselves to do what is right.

 

Overall though, when we wake up every morning we should know that we can be somehow better than we were yesterday.  Every day can be a start to a better us.  We can in fact change, if that is something we spend the time focusing on and actually doing.

 

Even though you or I may be just one person out of almost 7 billion, we can still make a difference either in our own lives or in the lives of others. 

 

I doubt greatly that any one of us is a horrible person, has not accomplished anything of significance, or has never helped others.  However, I am also convinced that none of us are exactly where we would want to be. 

 

Of course we could simply go on going on, without any real change happening over the course of our whole lives.  We have our routine and simply continue in it.  But do we really want to stagnate?  I know God doesn’t want us to – otherwise He would not have given us the Holy Spirit.  You may notice that many of the things that God loves are mirrored in the fruit of the Spirit. 

 

And a person who is experiencing positive change, experiences new opportunities, greater meaning, greater hope, and more joy in life.

 

As we are moving toward celebrating Communion, it may be an especially good time to take stock of our lives and our faith and to challenge ourselves to incorporate something which God loves into our lives in a greater way.

 

There were two times, as recorded in John, when Jesus spoke of bread and, in this case, water.  Once, when he had a conversation with a woman as he sat by a well in the Roman province of Samaria.

 

Jesus said … “Everyone who drinks of this well water will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again; but the water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life."                                                John 4:13-14

 

The other time, Jesus had just fed the multitude and they wanted to feed them again.

 

Then Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”                                     John 6:35

 

While not directly related to the Lord’s supper, Jesus’ words do give us an indication that, long before the last supper, Jesus knew that he was able to provide something that would quench thirst and satiate hunger for good.  Of course he wasn’t speaking of literal but of spiritual hunger and thirst.

 

In fact, that is what he meant when he said, 

 

Jesus cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him follow me and drink.  Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture says, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living waters.’”  This he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive.                         John 7:37-39

 

This is also what he indicated when he said,

 

I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.

                                                                                    John 10:10

 

Jesus was speaking of another reality that would be true when the New Covenant was established.  Jesus would send the Holy Spirit who would empower his followers to live in harmony with God’s will.  It is doing what God loves.

 

That is abundant life.  That is a fulfilled life.  That is a life that is the introduction to life eternal.

 

On the night prior to his arrest, Jesus celebrated his last Passover meal with his followers. 

 

During the meal, Jesus was aware of his imminent betrayal, arrest and death.  So he took one of the pieces of bread and distributed it to his followers with these words:

 

This bread is my body, which is given for you.

                                                                                    Luke 22:19

 

Let us remember Jesus’ body, which was broken for us.

 

At the end of the meal, Jesus reiterated his point by taking a cup of wine and passing it around with these words:

 

This cup of wine, which is poured out for you, is the new covenant in my blood.                                         Luke 22:20

 

Let’s remember Jesus blood, which was poured out for us. 

 

The significance of the bread and wine were the same.  They indicated that Jesus’ suffering and death would be on behalf of his followers in order to reestablish a covenant relationship between them and God.

 

And part of that covenant relationship includes the sign of the covenant – the Holy Spirit – who is to indwell us and empower us to be those who live to please God.

 

Now, the truth is that even the best of people still have flaws.  We will never arrive at perfection … something else we need to accept about ourselves … but that shouldn’t mean that we simply give up.

 

God believes in us.  We, you and I, are to be his hands and feet and mouth on this earth.  That is what Jesus meant when he said that his followers should be salt and light.

 

Maybe we should begin this week by trying to ask others if there is anything that we can do to make their day better.  Or we can sincerely point out the good in others … tell them that they are important, worthwhile, a blessing.  Or maybe we can take someone a meal, visit with them, bring them some groceries.   

 

It may inspire them to realize the positive impact our faith has made on us, it may motivate them to move them toward God, and it may inspire them to pay it forward.  Imagine the joy of knowing that we have improved the life of another.

 

WHAT VIRTUE WILL I SEEK TO INCORPORATE MORE INTO MY LIFE THIS WEEK?