Sunday, July 8, 2018

What makes you so important?

Ever consider what God hates? We know what he loves - us! Yet, do we fully know what he hates -  declares to be vile, unacceptable, and with the potential to harm. God "HATES" these things - he doesn't just have a little displeasure with them. I have always tried to teach my kids that the word "hate" really should not be in our vocabulary, and especially not in our behavior or attitudes toward others. So, why is it that God's attitude toward certain things is one of hatred? It is isn't that God hates the one who acts in certain ways (exhibits these 'bad' behaviors), but rather, he hates the behavior - because it does not reflect him to a lost and hurting world and they drive wedges between relationships of all types. These behaviors are contrary to the actions of heart that reflect a spiritual renewal and cleansing. They also stem from a heart that has not truly made God the center of their focus.

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. (Proverbs 6:16-19)

God hates the first six identified behaviors and loathes the last. I always thought there was not too much difference between hating something and truly loathing it. Yet, there must be some subtle differences if both words are used to describe how God feels about these behaviors. Hate carries the idea of detesting something - being so intense in your dislike that you are actually hostile toward it. Loathe carries the idea of feeling disgust with a particular behavior - it just absolutely turns the stomach. Some pretty strong words, huh? And they are associated with our heavenly father's reaction to OUR sin! We cannot lose sight of the fact that there are behaviors identified as what he hates or loathes, not PEOPLE. Behaviors are outlined as objects of his intense dislike and disgust - because behaviors stem from the heart - in these cases, a heart untouched by his grace. You may have heard the saying, "God loves the sinner, but he hates the sin" - this is the idea behind this passage. He cannot condone sinful behavior because it is contrary to his character - who he is as a person (a holy God). He can accept the person and still not condone the behavior - he does this through the blood sacrifice of his Son - seeing us through that shed blood.

In fact, when God looks at our sinful state, he sees us through the eyes of forgiveness. Forgiveness that was purchased by the cross. If that is the case, why does God focus us on these seven characteristics of behavior as "not pleasing" to him? Well, look closely at what has been outlined within this passage. Pride, a lack of truth, harm of another, evil intents - all are suggestive that "self" is the focus, not God. These behaviors interfere with others seeing Christ in us - they interfere with his grace being evident. Therefore, they need to be forsaken. Eyes that are arrogant - an arrogant person is quite assuming in their behavior, aren't they? There is an air of superiority that emanates from them. The arrogant focus on their "rights" - ignoring the "needs" of those around them. God detests this kind of behavior because it is a "put off" to those who would want to draw near to us. People are not drawn to one who is always putting on "airs". In fact, they are often repelled by this attitude of superiority - maybe because they find themselves judged in the eyes of the one who exhibits this behavior tendency!

God wants his kids to be approachable - he wants our hearts and our attitudes to reflect that we are simply redeemed sinners. There is nothing superior in our "make up" that brings us into the place of salvation - ALL of us are sinners, ALL of us have fallen short of his glory, ALL of us stand in need of a Savior. The fact that we have welcomed Jesus into our heart should not "elevate" us to a place of self importance, but should stand as a constant reminder that except for his grace in operation within our lives we'd still be miserable sinners - repulsive to God and others. Maybe today we begin by asking God to point out any tendency we may have to look at others through eyes that are tinted with any type of arrogance. If he exposes any of these tendencies to us, we simply ask him to begin to change that attitude. We may be very surprised how a simple change in our perspective of "self" importance affects how we see others around us! Just sayin!