************ Sermon on Proverbs 6:16,19b ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on October 16, 2016
"What God Hates"
God wants us to grow in the faith and godliness. To do that, we need to know as much about God as He tells us. And, we need to know as much about ourselves as God tells us.
I What God Hates and Loves
A So what does God tells us about Himself? Proverbs says in our text for this morning:
(Prov 6:16) "There are six things the LORD hates, seven that are detestable to him."
We find similar language scattered throughout Proverbs 30:
(Prov 30:15) "There are three things that are never satisfied, four that never say, 'Enough!':
(Prov 30:18) "There are three things that are too amazing for me, four that I do not understand:
(Prov 30:21) "Under three things the earth trembles, under four it cannot bear up:
(Prov 30:29) "There are three things that are stately in their stride, four that move with stately bearing:
This kind of language is a literary device used by the Old Testament. And, it is always the last item on the list that matters most. So, what does God hate most?
(Prov 6:16-19) There are six things the LORD hates, seven that are detestable to him: (17) haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, (18) a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, (19) a false witness who pours out lies and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers.The seventh thing the Lord hates, what God hates most, is "a man who stirs up dissension among brothers."
This seventh item is the key to understanding the other six things the Lord hates:
-What He hates about haughty eyes is that their arrogance stirs up dissension among brothers.
-What He hates about a lying tongue is how its gossip and slander stirs up dissension among brothers.
-What He hates about hands that shed innocent blood is that they stir up dissension among brothers.
-What He hates about a heart that devises wicked schemes is that it stirs up dissension among brothers.
-What He hates about feet that are quick to rush into evil is that they stir up dissension among brothers.
-What He hates about a false witness who pours out lies is that his lies stirs up dissension among brothers.
Do you get the picture? God hates all dissension with a passion. He finds it "detestable." He abhors dissension. He considers it to be an abomination. It turns His stomach.
I looked up the Hebrew word for "detestable" in the rest of the Old Testament. I discovered that the list of things that God detests and abhors is long and varied: idol worship, sacrifice of children, homosexual practice, prostitution, divorce, carved images, eating unclean foods, the sacrifice of an ox or sheep that has a defect, the practices of the heathen nations in the land of Canaan. To that list we need to add "dissension."
What is dissension? In mind is anything that breaks up the unity of the body. In mind is anyone that destroys harmony and fellowship. In mind is disunity, strife, contention, controversy.
God detests disunity, strife, contention, and controversy. He abhors this kind of behavior among His people. He does not want anything like this in His church, in His family -- the family of God. He hates it if we bite and devour one another (cf Gal 5:14-16).
B Knowing what God hates, we also need to look at what God loves. Here we learn something else about God. God loves the opposite of dissension. God delights in unity. I am sure you all recognize these words from Psalm 133:
(Ps 133:1) How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!There are a number of verses in the New Testament that say the same thing:
(1 Cor 1:10) I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought.I repeat, God delights in unity.
(Eph 4:3-6) Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. (4) There is one body and one Spirit-- just as you were called to one hope when you were called-- (5) one Lord, one faith, one baptism; (6) one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
(Cf Phil 2:2-5; Heb 13:1; 1 Pet 3:8)
This unity that God loves is ours in Christ. Our unity rests in the cross and grave of Christ. In Christ we all are part of the family of God. In Christ we all are brothers and sisters. In Christ we are what God loves instead of what God hates.
C Let me remind you that Solomon is still speaking as a wise father. He is speaking to his son. He is giving the young man instruction on how to live before the Lord.
Remember how this instruction starts? "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge" (Prov 1:7). That is always our beginning point as we instruct our children. That's the beginning point for the baby baptized this morning. Again and again we need to point our children and youth to the Lord, to a living and loving relationship with the Lord. Boys and girls, young people, listen to me: love Jesus, fear God, keep His commandments.
The fear of the Lord is the starting point. Upon this foundation, Solomon gives instruction for all of life. We have noticed that those who fear the Lord avoid violence, listen to rebuke, keep away from adultery, watch the tongue, work instead of be lazy, honor God in their marriage, and so on. We need to say all of this to our boys and girls. And, according to today's passage, we need to teach them and show them the value of unity and love and togetherness and harmony.
Parents, sit down with your kids. "My son, my daughter, God hates dissension. God loves unity." Tell them, teach them, show them. Remind them, again and again, that God wants the whole world to know of our strong and joyous unity in our Savior. Warn them against dissension and disunity and disharmony. Tell them and show them to keep their eyes, tongues, hands, heart, and feet from what the Lord abhors. I keep saying, "show them." Because, parents, your words mean nothing if you don't set a personal example of love and unity. If you don't love the communion of saints and the fellowship of saints, you cannot expect anything better of your kids.
II Putting Up Security
A God values unity. God hates disunity and dissension. With this in mind, listen to the warning of verses 1 & 5. Solomon says,
(Prov 6:1,5) My son, if you have put up security for your neighbor, if you have struck hands in pledge for another ... (5) free yourself ...
What is Proverbs talking about? What is wisdom saying to those who fear the Lord?
To "put up security" or to "strike hands in pledge" means to cosign a loan. It means to put up collateral for someone else. It means to underwrite someone else's speculative risk. It is getting into a partnership where your partner's default can bring you down. God is saying in verses 1 and 2, "If you've already done this, you're not in danger of becoming ensnared, you're already ensnared." Even the Federal Trade Commission, on its website, warns us about cosigning:
You are being asked to guarantee this debt. Think carefully before you do. If the borrower does not pay the debt, you will have to. Be sure you can afford to pay if you have to, and that you want to accept this responsibility.
In the Trinity Post I told you of protesters outside the meeting of Synod 2016. They held up signs, they passed out brochures, they tried to talk to every delegate who came their way. Guess what caused one of the protests? A couple from Toronto did exactly what Proverbs tells us not to do. They put up security for another man's speculative venture. And lost all $500,000. And then expected the Toronto consistory to get their money back from the man.
Foolish, foolish, foolish. If the person qualified for credit in the first place, he or she wouldn't be asking for someone else's backing.
B The Bible is so clear about two points. One, God wants us to be generous. Two, God does not want us to gamble.
You all know that the Old Testament commanded a culture of generosity. In Deuteronomy 15 God told His people to loan money to the poor freely. In Leviticus 25 God further commanded that every seven years all debts in the nation were canceled, erased forever. God had been generous to His people with His grace and His love, and He wanted them to create a culture of generosity within a ruthless world where you squeeze as much out of every deal as possible, drive tough bargains, and maximize every opportunity.
We see generosity on the part of Paul when he sent Onesimus back to Philemon. At that time Paul covered the past debts of Onesimus. But Paul did not promise to cover any future debts. In other words, he listened to the warning of Proverbs 6 that tells you not to "put up security for your neighbor."
C What does this have to do with unity? Go back to the couple from Toronto protesting at the meeting of Synod. Are they promoting unity and fellowship and harmony and peace and love in the church? Anything but. They made a bad business decision and stirred up dissension among the brothers.
Now, consider the situation in Israel. Proverbs mentions putting up surety for a "neighbor." Who is this neighbor? A fellow Israelite. A fellow believer. A fellow worshiper. What happens when the neighbor defaults? The relationship sours. Bad blood and ill-will exists. The wisdom of Proverbs says this is a bad thing and it should be prevented. How? Don't put up surety for your neighbor! Don't pledge for another! Why? Because unity and peace and harmony and love between the brothers and sisters of the faith are far more important than a potential for financial gain.
I want to refine the advice just a little bit. I have seen over the years that many parents cosign for their kids or loan money to their kids. Does the wisdom of Proverbs still apply? Well, let me ask, do you want to damage family relations? Do you want to cause a rift in the family? Do you want to cause hard feelings on the part of the children who do not ask for surety and a pledge? I have seen all of this -- and more, way more -- over the years. One person said this to me:
Don't ever cosign for you kids. Instead, lend them the money and don't figure on getting it back. That way you won't be hurt.
D There is only One Who can give security and a pledge. Job recognizes this One in chapter 17:
(Job 17:3) Give me, O God, the pledge you demand. Who else will put up security for me?Do you hear what Job is saying? "God, I'm a bad risk. I need You to cover for me. I need You to cover all my debts -- past, present, and future." So what do we see at the cross? At the cross Jesus wrote "Paid in full" across all our debts. If you are in Christ, you are free and clear with God forever because He has put up security and a pledge.
III The Sluggard
A The middle section of our Bible reading warns against the sluggard. What is a sluggard? Think of the way syrup oozes slowly out of a bottle when it is cold. That is the sluggard -- sluggish, slow, hesitant when he should be active, involved, and busy. Proverbs 26 describes him this way:
(Prov 26:14-16) As a door turns on its hinges, so a sluggard turns on his bed. (15) The sluggard buries his hand in the dish; he is too lazy to bring it back to his mouth. (16) The sluggard is wiser in his own eyes than seven men who answer discreetly.
Let me ask, what happens when someone doesn't do their fair share of the work -- at home, at church, in the school? What happens when someone is a sluggard? What happens when someone is too lazy to provide for the needs of their own family?
You know the result: bad blood and ill-will exists. The wisdom of Proverbs says this is a bad thing and it should be prevented. Why? Because unity and peace and harmony and love between the brothers and sisters of the faith is so important.
B How is the sluggard to learn? By going to the ant. By going to ant school. Watch the ant. Observe the ant. Does the ant take a wait-and-see attitude? Does the ant hang back and do nothing? Is the ant lazy and slow? Anything but. No one has ever seen a foot-dragging ant. They do not complain. They do not wait. They are not above hard work. The ant works today for tomorrow. It plans for tomorrow and gets ready for tomorrow.
Lets's apply this to church life. The sluggard says, "A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest" (Prov 6:10). Just a little more, always just a little more. We all understand that "a little" is actually not a little. It is a lot. So nothing is ever done and nothing is ever accomplished for the Lord Jesus Christ. Learn from the ant, arise from your slumber, and accomplish something great for Jesus. Like Solomon, hold that before your children and youth.
Think of what this does to unity and harmony and peace. Members work alongside each other. Members plan together. Members accomplish great things together for the Lord and His church. Members work together in the kingdom.
"There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him ... a man who stirs up dissension among brothers" (Prov 6:16,19b). I pray none of us are this man. I pray all of us listen to the wisdom of God. I pray we all prize the unity and community of the church that is ours in Christ.
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