The wrong stuff
For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. A time to love and a time to hate. A time for war and a time for peace. (Ecclesiastes 3:1, 8)
Let's stop this morning to consider what it is we truly love. It is probably easier for you and I to make a list of what it is we truly dislike or hate than it is to make one for the things we truly love! I don't like brussel sprouts, but I wouldn't say I "hate" them. I don't like liver - I think I could say I definitely don't like lamb - and I think I could even say I don't like lightening storms - but I cannot truly say I "hate" any of these. Hate is a strong word - one which I discouraged my kids from using as they were growing up. In reality, when we are saying we "hate" something, we are stating we almost have a hostility toward it. In laying out my list of what I don't really like, I am really saying I have a little aversion to the taste or the effect of the occurrence. I is not a strong repulsion to them or that I loathe them. I could eat brussel sprouts - but honestly, you'd have to give me a really good reason to eat liver! I wonder how many times we really look at how we use this word "hate" in our vocabulary and if we really have the true "feelings" of hatred toward whatever it is we have labeled as "hated" in our lives? God wants us to hate evil - to have such a strong aversion to evil so as to avoid it at all cost. I think this is something we can get our minds around. We understand why God wants us to detest evil - it destroys us and others, so he wants us to develop an aversion to all types of evil in our lives.
How does this 'aversion' happen? How do we know what it is God actually calls "evil"? These are good questions. God did a pretty good job of outlining the things we should avoid in the scriptures - in fact, the Word of God was given to us as a means of instructing us in how to make right choices. If we still have questions after we search it out within the pages of these sixty-six books we call the Bible, then we still have prayer and the guidance of the Holy Spirit to guide us. If all else seems to leave us devoid of a clear answer, we have discovered we also have this little thing called conscience. We have a whole lot of ways to identify the stuff God "hates" - but no tool is of value unless it is used! The right tool makes all the difference in accomplishing the task! We are people defined by what it is we love, as well as what it is we hate. To truly love something means we are drawn toward it. To truly hate something means we are repulsed and repelled away from it. I can honestly say I hate what I see illegal substances do to destroy the lives of those who get hooked on them. I can just as honestly say I love it when a man or woman finds their way to freedom from their addiction. We move toward what we love and move away from what we hate. We invest in what we love and starve whatever it is we hate. This makes it a little easier to maybe understand what it is God loves and hates. He is drawn toward spending time with us - so he must love us. He was willing to invest his greatest joy - his Son Jesus - so he must love us. He is repulsed by anything that takes our eyes off of him, so maybe we should think of those as the things he "hates".
We can "tolerate" a whole lot of stuff in this life. To tolerate something means we kind of allow it to exist - without really doing much with it or even to get rid of it. I tolerate a few weeds in my grass, simply because I don't want to spend hours and hours on my hands and knees weeding them all out. The things I choose to tolerate in my life often determine what I will get in this life or get out of this life. Think on that one for a moment. If we tolerate even the slightest bit of hatred toward another, what is the "return" on what it is we have tolerated. Hatred breeds more hatred. Unfortunately, when we tolerate the wrong stuff - the stuff God tells us he is repulsed by - we allow it to take root in our lives. This is why it is important to not just "tolerate" a little compromise. A little compromise can become a huge issue somewhere down the road. We consider something subjectively and objectively. Subjective information is what you tell me. Objective information is what I see, feel, hear, or sense. I hear you tell me you are run down, feeling a little moody, and generally not feeling yourself. I then look for the objective findings such as swollen glands, too many hours at work, or poor eating habits. In life, we need both the subjective and objective "assessments". We need the balance of what it is we know to be the set of "values" we can use to evaluate things against (God's Word) and then the evaluation of our subjective "feelings" and "actions" against what it is God declares. To simply rely upon our subjective feelings will lead to subjective actions - both of which are dependent entirely upon the situation. Objective evaluation looks beyond the situation and gives us a "constant" by which it is we can evaluate our actions. God cares about us enough to give us a set of "constants" by which we may evaluate life. If we want an accurate assessment of what it is we are to love and hate in life, we must consider the "constants" in his Word. If we realize some things are not in alignment with what he says to love or hate, we can make adjustments, so we aren't tolerating the wrong stuff. Just sayin!