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I hate… (Psalm 119:163).
In my experience, many Christians struggle with the word “hate,” as though it shouldn’t have any part in their vocabulary. And yet here is that word right in the middle of Psalm 119, this longest chapter in the Bible which extols the value of the Bible in all 176 verses.
I remember watching “Sesame Street” when they would sing the song, “One of these things is not like the other.” Let’s play that same game from this Sin/Shin section of Psalm 119:
I stand in awe of Your Word
I rejoice in Your promise
I love Your law
I praise You, God, for Your righteous laws
I follow Your commands
I obey Your statues
I love Your statutes
I obey Your precepts
I hate falsehood
Doesn’t that last one seem out of place? In fact, it’s not just “hate,” but one translation says, “hate and abhor,” and another says, “hate and detest”!
But I want you to notice first of all that it is not a person that the psalmist hates, but falsehood, deception, fraud, lying. The root word in Hebrew is someone who is purposefully dealing falsely as a means of tricking or cheating.
This is what we could correctly say is righteous anger.
The psalmist’s love for the glory of God is great, which means he also reveres this Book of Truth—the Bible—that leads people to basking in God’s glory. To be apathetic about lies that are deliberately attempting to cheat people out of an intimate relationship with God is the exact opposite of love.
Hate is not the opposite of love;apathy is the opposite of love.
Hate of those things which keep people from God is the completion of the love for God and the respect for the Book that brings people to Him.
To love fully, I must also hate well. Not people, but actions that keep people away from experiencing and knowing God’s love. May all of us learn from the Holy Spirit how to awaken from any apathy we may have, and to correctly express our righteous anger.
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The crucifixion of Jesus lasted about six hours. This was mercifully short compared to what typically happened to crucifixion victims. It was hard enough for Jesus to get enough air just to breathe, let alone enough air to talk, so His words are few but precious! From 9:00 until about noon, He speaks three times; from noon until about 3:00, He has no recorded words; at 3:00 there are four final statements that come pretty close together.
As Jesus speaks His final declaration before wordlessly suffering for the next three hours, let’s take a look at who was there. They were people who deeply cared about Jesus, and people about whom Jesus deeply cared: His mother, His aunt, the mother of one of His disciples, Mary Magdalene, and His beloved disciple John.
Also notable was who wasn’t present on Golgotha: none of Christ’s siblings or other close relatives.
When Jesus speaks to her, He says, “Dear woman.” This is a term of kindness, respect, and endearment. To both His mother and to John, there is a Greek word that is omitted in some English translations of the Bible: Behold. Since Christ’s words were at a premium, this word was Jesus saying, “Listen very closely. Pay careful attention to this important word I’m about to speak.”
To His mother, Jesus says, “Dear woman, behold your son.” Jesus was saying, here is one on whom you can depend. And to His dear friend Jesus says, “Behold your mother.” Literally, Jesus was asking John to care for Mary as though she were his own biological mother.
Think about the dying declarations we’ve already heard. To those who treated Him so horribly, Jesus said,“Father, forgive them.” This was a word of forgiveness that required agape love. To the hardened criminal crucified next to Him, Jesus said, “Today you will be with Me in paradise.” This was a word of salvation that also required agape love.
Agape love is only possible in a regenerated heart. It’s an utterly selfless love that Jesus described this way: “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13). To forgive the unforgivable, to grant salvation to a lifelong criminal, takes the other-worldly agape love. We expect this from Jesus.
But there are two other loves in this scene. When Jesus says, “Dear woman,” He is expressing this natural love of son to mother. This Greek love is labeled storgé. C.S. Lewis calls this “the most natural, emotive, and widely diffused of loves.” To His dear friend John, Jesus speaks a word of philos love. C.S. Lewis says philos is “the love between friends as close as siblings in strength and duration [and] the least natural of loves.”
Jesus cared deeply for His mother and He deeply trusted His friend John. This tells me an important truth: Jesus doesn’t just care about spiritual things.
In fact, there isn’t anything that you care about that Jesus doesn’t feel too: “He had to be made like [us] fully human in every way” (Hebrews 2:17).
Sadly, I think we frequently hold on to some cares because we think they are too small or too insignificant—or maybe “unspiritual”—so we think they are unworthy of Christ’s attention. Let me say it again: There isn’t anything that you care about that Jesus doesn’t feel too!
Jesus intercedes before the Father’s throne of grace on our behalf. He knows exactly what to ask for because He experienced all of our earthly pains Himself. Then the Father and Son send the Holy Spirit into our hearts to give us the love and strength we need (see Hebrews 4:14-16; Romans 5:5).
When Jesus showed us His full love—storgé, philos, and agape—He made it possible for us to fulfill His command: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another”(John 13:34-35).
Jesus showed every kind of love so that we can live every kind of love! As we live as love-filled people, we show others the path to Christ’s love for their own love-starved hearts.
Jesus spoke this loving declaration from the Cross to show us that His love covers any need that we have to encounter. Let me repeat it again so that you don’t forget it: There isn’t anything that you care about that Jesus doesn’t feel too!
“In a word, spiritual maturity is Christlikeness.”
“Christ set the standard in everything. He was never petulant, always calm; never rebellious, always obedient; never fearful, always courageous; never vacillating, always resolute; never pessimistic, always cheerful; never subtle, always sincere; never grasping, always generous; never acting from expediency, always from principle. He is the pattern of spiritual maturity.”
“So then our spiritual maturity or immaturity is seen in the manner in which we react to the changing circumstances of life. … It has to be learned. Is it not striking that it is recorded of Christ that ‘though He were a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered; and being made perfect, He became the author of eternal salvation’ (Hebrews 5:8-9)? He alone was fully mature. The rest of us are ‘going on to maturity.’ In all of us there are some expressions of our personality in which we react immaturely instead of as mature men of God.”
“The highest manifestation of spiritual maturity is love. We are only as mature as we are mature in love.”
“God forbid that we should ever cease to love the gospel in its simplicity, but we must not be content to stay there. We must go on to appreciate increasingly the gospel in its profundity.”
“There is a place for a constructive contending for the faith. The church has degenerated sadly since Pentecostal days and the servant of the Lord has an important part to play in its revival.”
“It is possible to get to heaven without living a consecrated life, but the journey there will be barren and disappointing, since consecration is the doorway to undreamed-of joy. Neglect it, fail to seek it, and life will be greatly impoverished. Welcome it, and life becomes inexpressibly enriched.”
“When we dedicate our lives to God, He consecrate us to His service. We dedicate our lives to Him that He may work His will in us. He consecrates us to Himself that He might make us holy.”
“It has been suggested that in consecration we bring our lives to God as a blank sheet of paper with our names signed at the bottom. Confident of His love, we invite Him to fill in the details as He will.”
“It is a life separated to the glory of God. Inherent in the word ‘consecration’ is the idea of separateness. There must of necessity be separation from sin if there is to be separation to God. … The consecrated Christian hates evil, but he has a passion for the right and for the glory of God and Christ. He tests all his actions by the one standard, ‘Is this for the glory of God?’ He will do anything, suffer anything, if only God is glorified. Nothing is too costly to give to the Master.”
“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one!’” —C.S. Lewis
“Friendship is precious, not only in the shade, but in the sunshine of life, and thanks to a benevolent arrangement the greater part of life is sunshine.” —Thomas Jefferson
“Friendship is a single soul dwelling in two bodies.” —Aristotle
“Friendship is not a way of accomplishing something but a way of being with another in which we become more authentically ourselves.” —Eugene Peterson
“The glory of friendship is not the outstretched hand, not the kindly smile, nor the joy of companionship; it is the spiritual inspiration that comes to one when you discover that someone else believes in you and is willing to trust you with a friendship.” —Emerson
“If the first law of friendship is that it has to be cultivated, the second law is to be indulgent when the first has been neglected.” —Voltaire
“Friendship is agreement with kindliness and affection about things human and divine.” —Cicero
“The light of friendship is seen plainest when all around is dark.” —Grace Noll Crowell
“For spiritual friendship, which is what we mean by true friendship, should be desired not with a view to any worldly good, nor for any reason extrinsic to itself, but from the worthiness of its own nature, and the feeling of the human heart, so that it offers no advantage or reward other than itself. … For in this true friendship one makes progress by bettering oneself, and one bears fruit by experiencing the enjoyment of this increasing degree of perfection. And so spiritual friendship is born among good people through the similarity of their characters, goals, and habits in life.” —Aelred of Rievaulx
“The quickest way to initiate friendship is to give people freedom to be themselves.” —Andy Braner
In his letter to the Christians in Ephesus, Paul uses the word “walk” seven times to instruct them how to follow the path Jesus laid down for us.
In Greek, the word for “walks” (peripatēo) means something that regulates my life, or something that keeps me on the right path. It’s my lifestyle that is kept in proper boundaries by something outside of me.
…knowing I am God’s workmanship, created for a great purpose (2:10)—It may take me some time to discover my purpose and my talents, but I keep at it.
…worthy of my vocation (4:1)—Once I have discovered my talents, I develop them into strengths that will benefit others.
…lovingly (5:2)—Just as Jesus did!
…in the light of God’s truth (5:8)—This is the exact opposite of foolishly walking. It means I seek the truth and I apply the truth to my life.
…circumspectly (5:15)—Not wasting my moments, but making sure I am giving 100 percent every single day.
When I WALK THIS WAY people will inevitably notice that I’m motivated not by popularity with people, but by intimacy with God (5:2-7). They will see that my path is bordered by the principles in God’s Word (5:8-14; Psalm 119:105). And they will notice that my life has purpose and is productive (5:15-20).
All Christians should ask themselves:
Is Jesus pleased with the path I’m on today?
Can others follow my footsteps toward their own relationship with Christ?
If you can answer “yes” to those questions, then Jesus will be pleased that you WALK THIS WAY!
[You can check out the Scriptures I referenced in this post by clicking on DON’T WALK THIS WAY and WALK THIS WAY above.]
This is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.
Standing Pure Against The Onslaught Of Lust
God does not give a man a new body when he is saved: his body is the same, but he is given a new disposition. God alters the mainspring; He puts love in the place of lust. What is lust? The impatience of desire—I must have it at once. Love can wait seven years; lust cannot wait two seconds. …
A disciple has to be free from the degradation of lust, and the marvel of the Redemption is that Jesus Christ can free him from it. …
You have heard that it was said, “Do not commit adultery.” But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell [Matthew 5:27-30].
What does that mean? It means absolute unflinching sternness in dealing with the right things in yourself that are not the best. “The good is the enemy of the best” in every man, not the bad, but the good that is not good enough. Your right hand is not a bad thing, it is one of the best things you have, but Jesus says if it offends you in developing your spiritual life, and it hinders you in following His precepts, cut it off and cast it from you. Jesus Christ spoke rugged truth, He was never ambiguous, and He says it is better to be maimed and damned, better to enter into life lame in man’s sight and lovely in God’s than to be lovely in man’s sight and lame in God’s. …
In the beginning of the Holy Spirit will check us in doing a great many things that may be perfectly right for everyone else but not right for us. No one can decide for another what is to be cut off, and we have no right to use our present limitations to criticize others. Jesus says we must be prepared to be limited fools in the sight of others, in order to further our spiritual character. If we are unwilling to give up the wrong things only for Jesus, never let us talk about being in love with Him.
From Studies In The Sermon On The Mount
God’s love is stronger than flesh’s lust. The real question is—Are you willing to obey the Holy Spirit Who tells you what things need to be gouged out or cut out of your life in order to defeat lust?
Don’t make excuses. Don’t compare yourself to others. Don’t delay in obeying. Lust can—and must!—be defeated in the life of a Christian. How true that it is “better to enter into life lame in man’s sight and lovely in God’s than to be lovely in man’s sight and lame in God’s”!