In one sense the Word of God may be said to be filled with truths so profound that the most sanctified heart and dedicated mind cannot fully plumb their depths. Many long-time believers will confess that we have gone to a familiar passage, one we have known and studied perhaps for decades, only to discover a greater depth or a new facet of truth previously hidden. This sort of fresh discovery (not new truth per se, but a new or clearer understanding) will repeat itself so long as we continue examining the Word. In another sense some truths are profound in their simplicity. And while it is true that continued study and meditation may reveal hidden depths in a seemingly simple statement, it is also often true that the basic kernel of truth can be immediately and thoroughly grasped by the youngest of believers. The fundamental truths needed to survive and develop are frequently easily apprehensible. Just as a young child can grasp the basic truths he needs to thrive naturally—“Eat your vegetables.” “Don’t play in the street.” etc.—so even a young believer can grasp the essentials for spiritual victory. Today’s text offers a prime example: “Hate the evil, and love the good” (Amos 5:15). Few truths are simpler—or more valuable.
“Hate the evil.” Guess what hate means? It means “hate.” A very young child understands the concept of hate and often uses the word enthusiastically and correctly, albeit carnally. It speaks of an intense disliking, a loathing, a revulsion toward some thing or some one. Such is the distaste that the child does not want to be around the person, participate in or even view the activity, taste the food, or talk about the subject that he hates. Amos tells us that, on a spiritual level, we are to have that response—hatred—toward evil. Guess what evil means? “Evil.” “Bad.” In other words, anything that is unscriptural, immoral, illegal, or unethical. Again, this is not a difficult concept to grasp. Our opinions about what is bad may vary depending on our state of maturity, but we all understand the principle.
The Word, then, is very clear. We must identify what is bad in the light of God’s Word; then we must hate it. God is calling on believers to exercise a particular response to evil. It is not enough to avoid it (that may keep us out of trouble temporarily). It is not enough to denounce it (that may keep others out of trouble temporarily). The only holy, gracious, and safe response to evil is to hate it. We are to develop such an appreciation of the consequences of sin, such a love for the Lord, such a thankfulness for His saving grace, such a desire to please and honor Him, and such a wish for His fellowship that evil becomes truly repugnant to us.
“Love the good.” Guess what love means? “To have affection for.” Guess what good means? That’s right: “good.” Just as a child easily grasps the former idea, so he can comprehend this one. And there is little question about what a child loves. If it is an object, he asks for it; he talks about it. If it is a person, he wants to be with him; he hugs her. We are to devote our time and attention, we are to expend our energy, we are to give our lives to the pursuit of what the Bible defines as good. We are to pursue and practice all that God calls good.
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