Is There Room For Hate?

Hate is birthed in many ways, it is the destination of many roads. Surprisingly, there is a place for it. It is right and good to hate the evil we see in this world, the exploitation, the greed, and nearly countless other sources to the pain mankind knows. There is a place for hate but there are places hate does not belong. God’s Law is written on our hearts (Romans 2). We all see good and evil, we all appreciate light and darkness. Often our inability, our indifference toward personal sin, our evil, and our darkness births hate. It is good to hate sin, it is good to hate the barriers that poison our relationships with others, with God, and even ourselves. But it is never good to hate people. Mankind is created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27), not physically but our heart, mind, and soul reflect this truth. We can reason, we are able to appreciate beauty, we are able to process the world we live in philosophically, logically, artistically, and often the appreciation goes beyond the metaphysical.

The fact that every person in this world is created in the image of God demands I value each and every person. God has called His followers to love the Lord our God with all our heart and with all our soul and with all our mind and with all our strength (Mark 12:31). In that same statement we are told to love our neighbor as ourselves (Mark 12:31), these are the greatest commandments. Why? Because all commands depend on these two actions as foundation. Our calling and purpose in Christ is dependent on these two commandments…Love God with all you are and love others with all you have. If you hate a person, you hate a person created in the image of God and in turn you have hated God. If you hate a person you obviously are not loving them as yourself. There is a very real spiritual battle occurring and there is no room and no time to hate people. It is not easy to live like this, it is not always easy to love like this, but it is our calling in Christ; our purpose.

Often times, people look at the world around them and shake their head because of the sin they see in others. They shake their head because people are unreasonable, people are greedy, people are racist, people are sexist, people are bigots, people are gay—let me say this, people are people! We are fallen. Every one of us has sin in us, every one of us is imperfect. I shouldn’t look down on you or hate you because you sin differently than I do. We are all born with sin in us, it is innate to our being in this fallen world. None of us are perfect and all of us fall short (Romans 3:23). Do not let your frustration with the sins of others drive you to hate them. Do not let your opinions drive a wedge between you and others. You can have your opinions, you can be who you are, you can be passionate about causes but do not let these things hinder or destroy relationships!

I hate the sin that resides in me. I hate it when I realize I have been selfish, I hate it when I realize I have been prideful, I hate it when I lust, I hate it when I covet, I hate it when I alienate, and we all should hate it when we sin in these ways and others. Often times when we hate the sin in us and when we hate pieces of us, it morphs, it evolves beyond a healthy hate and turns into a hate that is toxic. It is healthy to hate my sin but if it brings me to hate myself it has made a turn to the unhealthy. It is okay to hate the sin in me but when it brings me to hate others because they are involved in that sin or even different sins, the hate has become toxic. In my studies and experience I have found assurance in Christ. I do my best. I fall short, I sin, but I do not accept that sin; I fight it the best I can. Then, before that failure becomes toxic toward my relationships with myself, God, or anyone else I remember…God has done the rest. I will not be content with my brokenness, I will not let selfishness rule me or other sins drive me, but when I fall, when I fail, when I am reminded I am messed up, I remember Christ died for me. Jesus was perfect and died for me because I’ll never be perfect. He died for everyone, He died for all of us while we were broken, while we are sinners, while we are jacked up and imperfect, He died for us because He loves us (Romans 5:8). Do your best, God has done the rest!

Do not let your brokenness cause you to hate others. Do not let your uncertainty drive you to hate others. Do not let your experiences breed hate toward others. Any form of religion or any worldview that brings you to hate in an unhealthy way is wrong. If you see an unhealthy hate in your heart it is time to reevaluate, it is time for further introspection. Christ has not called you to hate people. Jesus has called you to hate the things that separate man from God and to address the issues you have, then help others with their issues from what you have learned (Matthew 7:3). Right now people are hurting, confused, angry, and in shock…we are called to endure with them and to love them (Romans 12:15). If we can get beyond our politics, our hedonism, and legalism– if we can do this, the things God will do can amaze you…they can amaze the world.

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Looking At The Roots (Part Three)

1 Timothy 6:10

For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

In discussing the failed proverb “Money is the root of all evil” and the misunderstanding that it comes from the Bible I have briefly discussed the word love and root since they are important words when attempting to understand 1 Timothy 6:10. There are many misquoted verses of the Bible and many times they are perpetuated by Christians simply out of ignorance or assumption that is why I have taken a little time for us to look at this verse. I have been guilty many times of assuming the teaching or quote of another is legitimate and correct and that is why the story of the Bereans encourages me to do better. In Acts seventeen the Bereans remind us of the importance of studying and double checking the things we hear in conversation and even in sermons and blogs like this one! Now, we’ll address the rest of the verse and hopefully cut out this false teaching once and for all; at least for you and me.

There is no doubt money has the potential to mislead the person who possess it, giving a sense of security where there is none. If there is one thing I have learned in economics it is money ebbs and flows and it is not to be trusted. Not only can money potentially bring a person to a sense of false security but it also poses the threat of breeding greed and idol worship in the one who possesses it or the one who is reaching for it. As a matter of fact Luke 12:13-21 reminds us of this truth:

 

Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” Jesus replied, “Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?” Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.” And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’ “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’ “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.”

 

It is clear at this point money is not the root of all evil, sin is. It is also clear that money is not evil, but when you love it and it becomes your passion in this world it is then money has the potential to take root and choke you out…physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. To nail this truth in I want to borrow words from J.C. Ryle, who said “The history of the Church abounds in illustrations of this truth. For money Joseph was sold by his brethren. For money Samson was betrayed to the Philistines. For money Gehazi deceived Naaman, and lied to Elisha. For money the Son of God was delivered into the hands of wicked men…It overthrew an apostle of Christ. Let us take heed that it does not overthrow us. One leak may sink a ship. One unmortified sin may ruin a soul.”

It is the love of money that is so malicious. When we live our life with the ultimate goal of having things, being comfortable, and building our empire—when health, wealth, and prosperity are our goal in this world we have lost sight of not only our purpose, but our God and Creator. When the love of money takes root in our hearts our priorities shift and it is only a matter of time before we tip over. The Bible reminds us of the failures of men and women who followed God because we too face the same danger. Stories like Ryle mentions are there to prod us, to poke us, to wake us up to the dangers that wait ahead. The verse says some by longing for [money and possessions] have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. We see that truth displayed time and time again throughout Scripture.

There is nothing wrong with wanting to pay your bills or hoping that something works out so money is made. Like I said in the previous parts to this discussion, it comes down to where your heart is. After all, if you do well in an endeavor you will have more to share with others who need it. The problem comes when you love money, when you long for it, and when you greedily store it up or collect it. When you long for something it fills your mind, it is what you think about, plan about, and what you reach for. Ultimately we are to live a life in which we long to live for God and love Him and others as He has called us to. When we long for money or we reach for it we are at danger of losing sight of the true goal of this world. When greed and a yearning for wealth fill our heart it leaves little room for much else. God has called us to love the Lord our God with all our heart, all our soul, all our mind, and all our strength and to love our neighbor as our self. No other commandment is greater than these (Mark 12:30-31). If in life we are overcome with a longing for material things and our sights are set on obtaining riches we will end up running over others to get to it and even begin to believe we do not need God. I think of Scrat in Ice Age when I talk about this, if you don’t know what I’m talking about look it up on YouTube.

You may be saying right now “I wouldn’t forget about God” but realize the moment we put money or anything else in front of our calling to love others as our self, we have already abandoned Him and His purpose for our life! Greed or love of money causes people to do horrendous things, all we have to do is turn on the t.v., check out a news article, or open up our favorite novel to be reminded of this truth. People will lie, cheat, steal, even embezzle or kill if their lust for money takes root deep enough in their heart. You say “Jimmie, I would never do any of those things.”

I once heard a preacher say something along the lines of this: At one point something is unimaginable, but then it becomes imaginable. Then that thing that was once unimaginable is now unthinkable but then it becomes thinkable. Only to find that the same thing that has become thinkable will then become laughable then it is only a matter of time before it is doable. I say that to say this…don’t think you are immune to this nasty root, this love of money. It is easy to let it creep in. The wind plants the seed and our friends feed it, media waters it, and the sin in our heart nourishes it…then we find ourselves longing for material things, wealth, and all the other comforts that come as a result. Still, some of you are saying “No, I’d never.” Maybe you won’t kill or cheat to obtain riches but let me ask you something, how much do you have? Do you buy new clothes because they are merely out of style or you are sick of them, even though the clothes you have aren’t wore out. Can you find the money to buy things you use once a year? Do you find the money to go on vacations, getaways, day-cations, or the like? Are you able to go out to eat? I could go on forever but I won’t, you get the point. Too often we live in luxury and don’t even know it, we live a life of indulgence and comfort when others are hurting, starving, and in great need. But we justify our “little” pleasures and our “little” money when others have literally nothing. Enjoy life and the blessings God has given you, but remember to ask if there is room to share those blessings with others. Reevaluate what is a need and a priority in your life, the life of a Christian.

 

Do not let the love of money creep into your heart. If you have money use it to glorify the Giver. If God has blessed you with riches, great! Use them wisely and do not forget where they came from. Be grateful for a job that pays, work hard to take care of your family but in the midst of this do not lose sight of you purpose to love God, love others, and love yourself. Do not forget that we are urged not to lay up treasures for ourselves on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal (Matthew 6:19). I am not saying to live the life of a beggar, to cast out all your money and the things you work hard for. What I am saying or better yet, what I am pleading for you to do is to reevaluate money. How you use it, for what it is used, and how much stuff and comforts you need? Remember where the money really comes from. Jesus said in Luke 9:23, if anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. We must be willing to suffer literally physically, mentally, and emotionally like Jesus did. But even more difficult I believe, is being willing to die figuratively, denying certain pleasures of life so that someone else may experience the grace and love of God through the blessings He has given you. Love God with all you are and love others as yourself…

So, to those who say “If money is the root of all evil then why do churches ask for it?” Money is not the root of all evil, sin is. The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil and logic will not allow you to deny that. Common sense tells you why churches ask for money…there are electric bills to pay, hungry people to feed, church grounds to be mowed, immigrants to help clothe, broken families to mend, an inner city to aid, and Good News to share with the world. Money is needed to do these kinds of things. God can operate without money, He always has and still does. But God does not always speak in a burning bush, a parted sea, or miracles…God more often than not speaks through the hands, feet, and hearts of those who serve Him. Money is a tool to serve Him, we’d be silly not to use it when we can.

 

 

The image above is not my own, it belongs to 20th Century Fox.

 

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Looking At The Roots (Part Two)

1 Timothy 6:10

For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows.

There has been an obvious distortion or misunderstanding regarding this verse, and so, we must address it. The misunderstanding is not just in the image above, we hear the proverb Money is the root of all evil often enough it has distorted our vision. People want to attribute this teaching to Scripture but in so doing we find a teaching that blatantly misrepresents the teachings of our Creator. Naturally, to be better equipped to address this false teaching we must discuss the verse. We began part one by briefly discussing the word love and how it applies to this verse and our lives. Now I would like to take a step further in discussing the word root. I know, root? It seems like a weird word to camp on but we must and for good reason.

Not too long ago my wife and I moved back to the state of her rearing and upon moving back I embarked on a new journey…the rural life. While we have lived here I have learned much about farming from her family, especially her father. Now, we all learned in kindergarten the importance of roots and such when it comes to plants and through the years our understanding of phytotomy and plant morphology grew. While I understood the basics it was not until working on the farm I began to appreciate some of those lessons at a greater level. I will spare you the details and jump to the point, roots are important. You know this, I know…but do you?

If our tomatoes don’t have a strong root system they will not get the nutrients and moisture they need to thrive. If our corn does not have strong roots the wind and weight will topple the plant over. If the roots of our vegetables have too much competition they will not produce…and that my friend is where we must take a look in regard to our discussion. I did not realize how much work went in to keeping weeds from overtaking a field. A weed will come in and it will reproduce and grow and before you know it your tomatoes have been stunted or your beans have been overshadowed by the greediness of the weed. Many will address the issue with chemicals, they’ll spray the soil or plants to kill the weeds but some chemicals damage the vegetable. Even if the vegetable is not damaged, the chemicals get in the food and that impacts the person eating the food (that’s a whole other topic so I digress).

The best way, the most effective way to rid the root competition is to pull the weeds out by their roots! If you just tear off the top it’ll grow back. If you tear them out too late they will drop seeds that will present new weeds you’ll have to address later. So, when you see a weed in the garden you pluck it up. Now, I do not intend to give you a lesson in agriculture and this concept is simple but it is a problem plaguing mankind and it plagues the church. Money is not the root of all evil, sin is the root of all evil! We have inherited our sinful nature from Adam, Romans 5:12 says: When Adam sinned, sin entered the world. Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned. It is in us, in our bodies and it has taken up residence in our hearts. Sin has taken root in our hearts and it attempts to choke out all the fruit in our lives. The only way to address the main root of sin in us is by accepting Christ, Romans 10:9 tells us if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. Also, 2 Corinthians 5:21 tells us …God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ. If we accept Christ we are saved and one day He will tear out the weed that has taken root in our hearts. In the meantime, while we already have victory in Christ and He has squashed the hold of sin in our hearts, it still battles to spring up.

The root is unseen, but the condition of the root will impact the health of a plant. Whether you serve Christ or not the root of sin is competing with the healthy roots. If you want the healthy roots to grow and thrive and produce fruit you must tear out the roots of the weeds. Now, the love of money is the root of all kinds of evils. If you love money, if your goal is to acquire material things…the root of sin has birthed another weed and the root of this weed is the love of money. You can tear the root out and you are able to do this only through the power of Christ and the empowering of the Holy Spirit. Often we think we can do it on our own but too often we attempt to tear out the weeds in our lives alone and what happens is the root is never pulled completely out so it comes back stronger. Or, we tear the root out with our bare hands and it cuts us all up. So, you can pull out the roots or you can allow the roots to grow. You can allow the love of money to grow, the goal of material wealth and possessions to drive you but realize this root is the root of all kinds of evils.

The root of sin sprouts in many different forms for all of us but universally sin that has taken root in our hearts brings with it desires. James 1:15 tells us Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. Love of money is a sin, it is a terrible root and it brings its own desires like any other sinful root. If you are to have any hope you must take heed to the picture this metaphor of roots has for you. You cannot simply tear off the top of the root, you cannot simply plant more good plants around the weeds, you cannot simply treat the problems caused by the weeds…you must tear them out, root and all! Too often we think doing more good things or filling our lives with good things or by doing good things we can then ignore the roots that are choking us out—it doesn’t work, not for long at least.

You cannot do it on your own. The weeds that have grown in your life may require someone to come labor at your side, a friend, relative, or professional. For everyone though, to rid your life of these weeds you will need to be watchful and intentional about what you pull and how hard. Some weeds will require gloves (prayer), some weeds will require tools (fasting), but all the weeds will require you to want to change your garden. You can let the weeds take over, you can let your love for money drive you but if you want to change it… if you want healthy fruit and vegetable to grow and spring forth from your life; it will require a desire to change and grow, and you must realize that desire has come from the Holy Spirit. If the desire is there listen to the call of the Holy Spirit speaking and accept Christ as your Savior. If you have already confessed with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and you believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, but you see there are some unhealthy roots taking hold it is time to remember He is the power behind deep change and it is through Christ you will continue to tear out those roots.

We have talked about love and we have talked about roots, next time I intend to wrap up this discussion with more observation and application.

 

The photo above is from: https://www.btny.purdue.edu/WeedScience/NoTillID/pages/canadathistle03.html

 

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Looking At The Roots (Part One)

You and I hear it pretty often–the misuse and distortion of Scripture. We hear it when people misspeak whether it is out of arrogance and/or ignorance, we hear it. I would say more often than not, it is the ignorance that shines through. Maybe it was because Trump misquoted this verse out of his ignorance or maybe it wasn’t, but recently I saw a post making the rounds. The picture I’ve attached to this post is what I saw, but it isn’t the first time I have heard this misrepresentation of this particular verse in Scripture. The verse at hand is 1 Timothy 6:10, For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.

We often hear it—“Money is the root of all evil” but as you can see there is more to the text than that, quite a bit more. I plan on discussing or addressing this text to some extent so the next time you hear this false teaching you can address it and perhaps in addressing it even tear away the misunderstanding that may have latched on to you.

Paul is the writer of the text and he unfolds the dangers of loving money which is clearly not as generic as the often quoted proverb Money is the root of all evil. It is important to draw attention to a few words to correctly begin to grasp the message of the verse. The word love has been dropped from the modern proverb so many know and it is paramount we discuss this word. It is important to understand nowhere in the Bible does it say money is evil or it is evil to be rich. There are even some areas in the Bible we find the servants of God with great material wealth. As a matter of fact, 1 Timothy 6:17 a few verses from where we are discussing we find more context: Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. Notice Paul doesn’t instruct them to throw it away or toss it in the ocean, he says instruct the rich to view riches properly. Paul says realize riches are uncertain and when we have them they are a gift from God whom we should place our hope in.

In the handful of years I have been around Christians one verse that I have heard in homeless shelters to the church on Main Street is Matthew 6:21 for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. This is the idea here! If you hope in money and material things, if you love riches that is where your heart is and as we see above, our hope is to be in God and naturally our love also! Experience is clear and the Bible also makes it clear–No one can serve two masters. Matthew 6:24 is what I am alluding to: No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth. In this verse we find Jesus speaking and He makes it clear, love of money is idolatry. Money is a master that people serve and when we serve money we are unable to serve God.

Where is our hope to be fixed? In God. Who is to be supreme in our lives? God. That means anything, any person, or any idea that sits in the number one seat of our lives…ANYTHING that is number one in our life or heart has taken the proper place of God. When we put anything before or above God we have crafted our own idol. Quite often that paper we have dyed “In God We Trust” has become our god, it may not be a wooden statue or a marble altar, you may not literally bow before it with burnt offering… but we have allowed an idol to steal our hearts.

So, it is not Money is the root of all evil but …the love of money is the root of all kinds of evils. You must take notice in your life at what, or should we say who takes priority.  Who do you serve? Who do you love? That is the beginning of this verse and this is where you must start, love. Are you in danger of loving something else more than God? Have you elevated the gifts above the Giver? Is your hope to gain wealth and material comfort? Our hope is to be fixed in God and our love is to be for Him above all else. Naturally, from there our love for God will overflow to impact the relationships we have with others and ourselves as well. Nowhere in Scripture are we told money is evil, yet we also find nowhere in the Bible are we instructed to love money or pursue it.

We have briefly examined what role love plays in this verse and what it means in this context. We will take a look at other words in this verse in the days to come.

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Good, better, best.

Upon recent discussion with friends and acquaintances I am reminded of our passion. You see the injustices, you see the pain, you see the chaos of this world and this country. You want a solution you want restoration. It is clear to you every day, if you are looking and sometimes even if you’re not. The problem is, we see all these problems in the world and think the solution will be found in this world or the people that inhabit it.
The problems are real, they are tangible, they are empirical but many people can’t put their finger on the cause. Many have the false hope that a new President, a new Congress, new legislation, or new policies will fix the problems. Yet it all amounts to nothing. These kinds of solutions are filthy bandages or patches to a deeper issue. We have a heart problem! As long as we choose to live for this world with her finite aspirations and provisions we will never find ourselves satisfied. We are not content, we search for justice, we long for more…because God created us for more!

 

We can impact this world in a good way, we can solve some of these problems we face as a nation and a planet.  Let’s address the root problem, tear it out, incinerate it and go to work with our new hands, feet, and heart.

Do you see that problems we face in this world? Good.

Are you will to do something about it? Even better.

Still, if you’re not willing to go to Christ with it, if your hope is placed in the world, if your plans for restoration are of the finite kind that rusts and moths destroy…you are not yet doing what is best!
We can all do good because we are all made in God’s image, the difference is why and for whom we do it.

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