Last week, when I was driving home from work, I was thinking about the word “hate” and how many times we say it during our day. We might open the curtains in the morning and see the gray skies and the rain pouring down and we say “I hate this weather”. Or we might be talking to a friend who loves sea food and we say “I hate sea food”. We hear people saying things like: “I hate the way he/she speaks to me” or, “I hate his/her voice”, maybe something like: “I hate my job” or “I hate my life” or even “I hate you”. I could think of many more “I hates” but I think you get the idea. The problem is that I don’t think we actually know what hate means or perhaps we don’t understand the weight it carries. This is what the good old dictionary says: hate – loathe, detest, dislike greatly, abhor, abominate, despise, execrate. These words are not very good ones are they? And, if you try to substitute hate in the sentences above by any of these words, we would definitely not say them, well, at least most of them. Hate like many other words has lost its impact on the day-to-day life. People don’t even blink when they hear it coming out of mouths. It is just something people say.
I then started to think about the impact of hate in my day-to-day life. Can a Christian actually hate? Is that something I should be concerned about? Does that impact my testimony?
There is a verse in Proverbs that says:
To fear the Lord is to hate evil; I hate pride and arrogance, evil behaviour and perverse speech. (Proverbs 8:13)
At this point some people might be shocked as most of us only like to hear about love, which is displayed from the very beginning of the Bible, to the very end. We don’t like talking about words like hate and wrath. But if we look back at the verse and read it this way: “to fear the Lord is to detest, abhor, abominate, despise evil; I detest, abhor, abominate, despise pride and arrogance, evil behaviour and perverse speech”, then it is right for the Christian to hate. In fact these are things that we should hate.
You must be familiar with Psalm 139, if you are not, you might want to read it. In this Psalm we have a wonderful display from David of pure devotion to His God. Something worth paying attention to. He spends the first 18 verses of the Psalm declaring that God is infinite, incomprehensible, self-existent, self-sufficient, eternal, unchanging, omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent and sovereign. These are all the wonderful attributes that only God has. Then, there is a change in the tone and theme of David’s Psalm. This is what he says:
19 If only you, God, would slay the wicked! Away from me, you who are bloodthirsty!
20 They speak of you with evil intent; your adversaries misuse your name. 21 Do I not hate those who hate you, Lord, and abhor those who are in rebellion against you?
22 I have nothing but hatred for them; I count them my enemies. (emphasis mine)
This reaction might seem strange, too harsh even, not very Christian like, but this reaction is coming from a man who feared God. David knows God and understands who God is and who he is and he knows that it is utterly impossible to love, like or show any kind of affection for sin. We cannot fear the Lord and love sin. No. We must hate sin.
David was fighting wars and there was a lot of bloodshed (literally) and he did have many enemies to fight. One might think we don’t need to think or say the same thing because we are in a different time. We are still at war though, our war is a Spiritual war. The flesh fighting against the Spirit. (Galatians 5:16-18)
There is more we can learn from David. This is how he ends his Psalm – David is concerned with the sin that was in his heart.
23 Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. 24 See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
It is important for us to read Proverbs 8:13 and see that to fear the Lord is to hate sin starting with my own. Looking at my own heart as David did. That is what he asked God to do. We are not to hate the people who sin, but sin itself.
You might be asking but what does it mean to fear the Lord? It is to know who He is. To show reverence and to understand how majestic, awesome, mighty, loving and gracious He is. It is to understand all that David understood in the Psalm he wrote. It is also to understand how small we are in comparison. How do I even start to fear the Lord? A starting point might be when I know that I don’t know; when I understand that I don’t understand and when I know that I am a creature and God is the Creator. To see His greatness and power and to surrender to Him completely. When we do that we will hate sin. We will detest, abhor, dislike, sin. We also need to understand how serious sin is. What it cost. When we fear the Lord and trust him, he will help us make better choices which will help us to focus on living a life that pleases God and Him alone.
Do not be discouraged. We can ask God to search our hearts and help us in this fight we have. He has saved us and has given us His Spirit to help us each day.