Did you know there are things that God hates? The list of seven of these despicable behaviors in today’s reading (Proverbs 4-6) are not controversial. These hateful things abound in society and people consider them bad, if not evil. I’m afraid, however, that we condemn them in others but not much in ourselves.
Lying and being a false witness are two behaviors we hate when our opponents do them, but we tend to give ourselves a pass on them. Politicians sow discord, but that is acceptable if we agree with that politician.
I am challenged to resist these seven sins. By God’s grace and strength, let us rid ourselves from them for His glory.
How serious is sin? Today’s reading (Psalms 51-57) helps us answer that question. We live in a time when even the concept of sin is politically incorrect, a relic of a bygone era. Not everyone agrees. A couple years ago, Huffington Post blogger William Bradshaw asked “What happened to sin?” Bradshaw argued that society has gone off course as a result of ignoring God’s law.
David committed adultery, fraud, and murder. He was caught and confronted. To his credit, he confessed and repented. His thorough heartfelt prayer is recorded for us in Psalm 51. He gives us an example of the pain which sin causes and the remedy for it.
Sin is not just serious; it is lethal. But God calls us to confess our sin, to repent and to believe the good news of forgiveness and eternal life through Christ.
Jehu was a king who got mixed reviews. He did better than other kings but did not serve God fully. You could say he came in first. But first was not good enough. Maybe he compared himself to others and felt he had done enough. His scale of values was distorted by human failings.
God made us to be His image bearers, to reflect His glory. As fallen creatures we do not achieve that perfectly. Only Jesus Christ lived a sinless, completely God-honoring life. Yet we will be like Him (I John 3:1-3). That is our destiny. Do not settle for first place, like Jehu, but seek to grow in Christlikeness.
Despite the title above, there are no small sins. Any sin is rebellion against a Holy God. Yet there are sins which are subtle and often go undetected until they grow into a major problem. Sheba, the rebel in today’s reading, exploited pride and jealousy (small sins?) and used it to mount an almost-successful overthrow of the kingdom.
Not unlike the society we read about in Judges, post-modern man overestimates his wisdom to know and do what is morally correct. He has rejected God’s law and leaned to his own understanding. As a result, he honors what is despicable and punishes righteousness. “Everyone is doing it!” he says. “Nothing’s gonna stop us now,” he sings. It happened in ancient Israel and it is happening again in our time.
“Not so fast,” the Bible warns us. God is still the Judge of all the earth (Genesis 18:25). Romans 2:5 tells us, “ But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.”
When we make vows and commitments to the Lord, we need to be sure we are trusting Him for strength to fulfill them. Jesus’ teaching about abiding in Him like a branch connected to a vine is very instructive (John 15:1-11). God is not glorified by the failures of our good intentions, but He is glorified when we confess them and repent promptly.
I once spoke to a men’s group on the subject “Things I learned the hard way”. One of the things most of us learn the hard way is that sin never delivers the pleasure it promises. In today’s reading, Achan learned this lesson and became the horrible example for all of us. Learn from him. Try not to learn the hard way.
Parents (as well as other authority figures in our lives, like teachers) can be hard task masters, difficult to please. God is not so. Although He is perfect and His law demands perfection, He is delighted with obedience in His children. Our obedience begins with repentance and faith in His Son who died for our sins and lives for our sanctification.