The fear of the LORD is hatred of evil. Proverbs 8:13a
The language of hate makes most of us uncomfortable, especially when it comes to God and the things of faith. Yet, in the above text, hatred of evil is equal to the fear of the LORD.
“Well sure, everybody knows that,” we might say to ourselves. But, do we really hate evil? Or do we just play around with the idea of hating evil? Namely, do we simply hate the evil that doesn’t really impact us as directly as the evil that impacts someone else? Here is what I mean…
The next part of Proverbs 8:13 reads, “Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate.” So, do I really hate pride? Not that positive feeling of gladness that comes when those you love do well and are blessed and you have been blessed by being with them in their accomplishment (insert here your kids making a basket or finally learning to walk or tie their shoes). I mean PRIDE. The attitude that a person has when they think too highly of self; the concept of “I have wisdom, I have insight, I have skill, I know/do/am best.” Do we really hate that? Often in my own life, as I can guess may be true of many of you, I end up adoring those kinds of people and viewing them as “successful.” And what of pride in my own life? Do I really hate it, or do I simply excuse it away by baptizing my pride with some sort of pseudo-religious babble?
Let’s jump to the last one in Proverbs 8:13. What about perverted speech? Do I really hate it? When I hear something vulgar, blasphemous, or that is in clear violation of God’s standard in Jesus, do I despise it? Do I long for it to be far away from me? Or, do I teach my kids that “we shouldn’t talk that way” while secretly filing whatever I heard away because I thought it was a pretty good zinger, and I might be able to use it with those few “close friends” who understand that I don’t usually talk that way? Do I laugh at perversion and find the things God hates to be funny?
There are so many other things you could evaluate here. The key is, what am I doing with the truth that the fear of the LORD is hatred of evil? Now, if you are like me, then you are already putting up your “but I am not a legalist” wall to this whole way of thinking. “I am saved by grace.” “I am free in Jesus.” And to that I say a hardy AMEN. Yet, freedom in Christ is not freedom to do what we want, but freedom to be what we ought (and a special thanks to Randy R. for saying that with such precision). I ought to be a person who hates evil, if I fear the LORD. I should not be a person who excuses away my preferred evils through theological gymnastics.
So today, let us evaluate our lives. Are we embracing evil? Are we embracing violence and death and calling it entertainment? Are we embracing perverse speech and calling it comedy? Are we embracing wickedness and calling it freedom? Let us pray that we will not fall under the “woe” of Isaiah 5:20, “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!” Let each of us do more than say we fear the LORD; let us show it to be true.