It is funny how, from time to time, our read through Scripture will open to us a passage that we have seen countless times. I cannot say how many times I’ve read through the book of Proverbs. For a long while as a student, I read a Proverb a day—that’s a benefit of a 31-chapter book.
If you asked me what Proverbs tells us about the fear of the Lord, I would quickly say to you that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge (cf. Prov. 1:7). I would tell you that the Proverbs are clear that we must have a proper understanding of the holiness of God, of our position before God, and the awe-inspiring, trembling-inducing, fall-on-your-face holiness that we see in Scripture when men stand before the Lord. No person is wise who thinks they deserve the right just to bounce into the presence of God based on their own merit.
But, in this year’s read through the Bible, I saw something in Proverbs about the fear of God that I do not recall taking note of.
12 “I, wisdom, dwell with prudence,
and I find knowledge and discretion.
13 The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil.
Pride and arrogance and the way of evil
and perverted speech I hate.
Wisdom speaks to us about the fear of God. This time wisdom says to us that the fear of the Lord is hatred of evil.
Let me simply ask, when you define fear of the Lord, is hatred of evil in your definition? If not, why not? What would it look like in your life if hatred of evil was a part of your character?
This catches me, because I do not think we spend much energy in the modern church focusing on the hatred of evil. That is negative. It is certainly not socially popular. We do not think that hating evil will make us well-liked by the world. Perhaps we fear that hating evil, if that became part of our reputations, would inhibit our evangelism.
But, dear Christian friends—and I’m aiming at myself here too—if the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge, if we cannot please the Lord without properly fearing him, and if hating evil is a major part of the fear of the Lord as this verse says, then hating evil must be a part of the character of the child of God.
If we want to get slippery here, we will decide that we will hate evil, the evil that all the rest of the world hates. So, we will hate human trafficking, porn addiction, drug abuse, and murder. And, of course we should hate those things. But are those the only things the Lord tells us are evil? Is not any human sin evil? Is not any rebellion against the Lord evil? Is it not evil when we dishonor the Lord with our words and with our bodies just as much as it is when we harm other people? The truth is, we are to hate sin, even the sin we think is not such a big deal, if we are to properly fear the Lord.
This leads me to some strong self-examination. Do I hate sin? Do I hate evil? Or, do I only hate some evil, the obvious, big, dirty evil? Am I not, if I am honest, often entertained by evil?
Someone might challenge that, if we really are to hate evil, we would hate so much that we would feel like this entire world is not our home. To that I think I should respond with the following: Exactly.