There are six things which the LORD hates, yes, seven which are an abomination to Him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that run rapidly to evil, a false witness who utters lies, and one who spreads strife among brothers. Proverbs 6:16-19
Most of the time when we consider the things that might really displease God we think of murder, stealing, and stuff like that. While this passage from Proverbs does state that shedding innocent blood is something God hates, He also includes:
- arrogance (haughty eyes)
- thinking up mean or wicked plans
- delighting in watching/knowing about something evil (or perhaps something we might just consider entertaining drama?)
- being divisive
It’s easy for us to be polished church goers, give our tithes, not swear, and bake 100 cookies for the bake sale every month, but we can still harbor stuff in our lives that God actually hates. I don’t want a piece of my heart to hold on to anything my Father would call hateful. Yikes!
When I was a teenager, the pastor’s wife at a church my family attended on and off stood up and did something I will always remember. It was the Women’s Christmas event and the church had hired a Christian theatre group for the evening. In the course of the play, the actors were making fun of some worldly behaviors and the plot took a turn she just wasn’t comfortable with. In front of thousands of women, I mean thousands of women who had paid well for these tickets, gotten all spruced up, brought their moms, sisters, and friends, she actually got up on stage and stopped the play. She told them as Christians we couldn’t sit back and laugh at things that people go to Hell for. I wasn’t there that night, so I don’t know all the details, but the ones I did hear left an important impression in my mind. This normally soft spoken woman stood up very strongly that night for purity of heart. I admired that. No feet (or in this case eyes looking for entertainment) rushing to evil on her watch!
A few years later, another pastor’s wife called out some of the women at the church for spending the annual women’s retreat gossiping and speaking inappropriately about private details of their marriages. There’s a time and place to share necessary parts of our marriages for the purpose of getting help, but then there’s instances when we are sharing details that should be considered sacred between a husband and wife. The gossip was divisive and the way the women had been speaking about their husbands was arrogantly disrespectful. And it was all too easy. These sorts of things can spill off our lips without us even thinking through what we are doing with astonishing ease. A friend recently lamented over her mom not liking women’s retreats and how she was even more disgruntled at the fact that my friend was bringing multiple sisters to the retreat with her. Her mom was of a different faith, so while I think that had a lot to do with it, she said retreats were nothing more than women getting together to gossip. My friend felt like she was being wrongly accused. And most likely women gossiping wasn’t the main reason she was having a hard time with her daughters attending a retreat. But I know I’ve seen plenty of women’s gatherings turn sour because of divisive conversation, gossip, and story sharing that grew into exaggerated lies, arrogance, etc. Don’t get me wrong. I love women’s ministry. I just love it enough to want and believe that our gatherings can and should have great impact for kingdom things, not the stuff that wounds or distracts.
We are wise to read verses like these and let them sink deeply into our hearts and minds like a two-edged sword that would rightly divide our thoughts and intentions. There might be some seriously detrimental stuff banging around in there and if we are honest and humble enough, we will let the Holy Spirit shine on those places and change us.