Today I’m attending a workshop for pastors that is focused on how the church can be more effective in helping heal a broken and hurting world. When I signed up for this conference back in February, I had no idea how timely it would be for what’s going on in our world right now. Thankfully the Lord knew, and I’m grateful for the chance to be here, and to be able to focus on this topic.
The facilitator for today’s morning session opened with this statement: “Real love hates.” It was a bit of a shocking statement to start the workshop with - an opinion that I think most of the folks in the room shared with me, as there was a lot of awkward silence, while folks shifted uncomfortably in their seats. But then the speaker went on to read several passages from the Bible - beginning with Romans 12:9, where Paul writes: “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.”
This was followed by Psalm 97:10, which says: “Let those who love the Lord, hate evil.”
Then came Psalm 5:5, which tells us that: “God is loving, and hates evil.”
And then the speaker finished with Ephesians 5:10, which says: “Carefully determine what pleases the Lord. Take no part in the worthless deeds of evil and darkness, for the Lord hates them.”
What these passages help us understand is that, for our Christian love to be genuine, and for it to be what God wants it to be - then it must hate what is evil. And we can’t stop at hating broad categories of sin - things like genocide, and racism, and human trafficking. Instead, our love for God and for others must motivate us to hate all that is evil. Which means that we have to hate any and all sin, because all sin is evil.
So to have authentic, godly love grow in our lives, we have to hate lying, and selfishness, and greed, and lust - and any other type of sin that we humans can get caught up in. Of course this is where it gets challenging for us, because it’s easy to hate the big, evils of this world – the things we can see “out there” in the world. But it’s much harder to hate the sins that we allow to live in our own lives. Sins like greed and dishonesty and anger and pride. But God wants us to be people of real, authentic, godly love - which means that we have to hate all sin - no matter what it is.
And let me make sure that I clarify here, because I’m not saying that we hate ourselves for sinning, or that we hate other people who sin. I’m saying that we hate the sin - not the people caught up in the sin, including ourselves.
So today, let’s ask God to show us the areas in our lives where we aren’t being people of true, godly love. Let’s ask Him to show us where we’re saying we’re people of love, but we’re also allowing sin and evil to live in our attitudes, or thoughts, or words, or actions. And as God reveals those things to us, let’s stop and ask for His forgiveness. Then let’s surrender it to Him, and ask for His help in moving forward, so that we can be people who love how God loves, hating only what He hates.