All the it-just-makes-sense counsel in the book of Proverbs is astounding. But instead of zeroing in on any one particular verse, I’ll address general threads. Like righteous vs. wicked, wise vs. foolish, hatred vs. love, or work vs. laziness. And the fear of God, which I had no idea would be such a recurring theme.
The Proverbs-Giver drives home the intelligent decision to seek after wisdom/knowledge like one would a valuable treasure. Give it all you’ve got, spend everything you have, if necessary. The return on the investment is more than worth it. So, it has a cost. But don’t we value something more when we have worked hard to get it?
What is the cost?
The writer is clear: Fear God, live a righteous life, be faithful, and maintain an upright heart. To do those things requires giving up certain rights. And that can be more than difficult.
In Part One, I mulled over the concept of fearing God and how it plays out in my life. I thought I had finished with that topic. Then verse 13 of chapter 8 stared at me: The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil. (ESV)
What does evil mean, anyway? Merriam –Webster defines it as morally reprehensible. That’s kinda wishy-washy. Is evil the opposite of good? If God is good, then the opposite would be his/our archenemy, Satan? Yes, Satan and his minions are the personification of evil, but how about the result of their interference in our world? All kinds of gray areas. But for the most part, hand on our hearts, we have a good idea of what is evil is.
I’m reading Knowing God by J.I. Packer, and he has an interesting take on modern man’s vision of evil. I quote:
“The accepted maxim seems to be that as long as evil can be ignored, it should be; one should punish on as a last resort, and then only so far as is necessary to prevent the evil from having too grievous social consequences. Willingness to tolerate and indulge evil up to the limit is seen as a virtue, while living by fixed principles of right and wrong is censured by some as doubtfully moral.”
But Scripture says clearly that to fear the Lord means to hate evil. The question demands to be answered: If I claim to fear God, do I hate evil?
I come from a generation where mothers taught us not to use the word hate. “You can’t hate anybody, Colleen” is what my mom instilled in me. Once I got in big trouble for killing an ant. “You never kill anything you’re not going to eat,” Mama had said. If I’d had my wits about me, I’d have scooped up that spicy little varmint and popped it into my mouth. But my childhood teaching is another topic. Suffice to say, the concept of hate is hard for me.
Let’s give the word hate equal air time. Merriam-Webster says: intense hostility and aversion; extreme dislike or antipathy. And detest? To feel intense and often violent antipathy.
For instance, Proverbs 6 gives us a list of what God detests. Ya ready?
- A lying tongue
- Haughty eyes
- Causing conflict in the community
- Shedding innocent blood
- A heart that devises devious schemes
- Feet quick to rush into evil
- A false witness who pours out lies
Eek! Sound like anyone you know? Mama also warned me about name-calling.
So, do I hate/detest evil?
This part is personal, so please take it as such. Remember, I am trying to figure out what fearing God means in my life. I am not campaigning for anything.
But those seven things God detests? They pretty much describe my favorite TV shows that I watch every single day from 5:40-7:45. I won’t tell you which ones. The police lie their heads off to get the bad guys to confess to some horrendous crime they schemed up and then they, in turn, tell a bunch of falsehoods to try to get off paying for the crimes they’ve committed.
The whole show is about whodunit, which is a rush to try to figure out. I have convinced myself that the reason I watch these shows is because I love the character development and, as a writer, they are a study in plot construction. Which is all true, by the way. They’re awesome in that department. So somehow in my mind I am able to skim by the horrible, evil stuff that happens (sometimes explicit and graphic) to get to the fun part of wracking my brain to determine who the culprit is.
So, in light of my determination to now determine what fearing God means in my life I had to make a decision about these programs. I’m not talking about movies or shows where a bad guy does something evil. That happens in our world. It’s real. But the serials I mention highlight the things Scripture says the Lord detests. I’ve decided not to watch them anymore.
Instead, I’m going to use that time to pump up my word count on the book God has put on my heart to write that I claim to lack time to do. Two extra hours a day can add up to a lot more words. Or I could hang out with my grandchildren. Maybe read a good book. Or have a conversation with my husband.
Do you have to make tough decisions in order to gain the knowledge/wisdom available to us? Please share your thoughts.