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July 27, 2009



I have three questions: two general, the other situational.

What is the interplay between anger and hatred? I am asking because it would seem that hatred often incites anger. And, we know that the "anger of man does not accomplish the righteousness of God." Thus, must hatred be "cool" to accomplish righteousness? Stated differently, what conditions must accompany hatred to prevent it from becoming sin?

My first general question is perhaps illustrated by a situational hypothetical. Suppose a gossip spreads strife in a church. How should hatred for that behavior manifest itself? What are the trappings of a righteous hatred-with-legs in that context?

Also, it's practically dogma by now that one should "hate the sin not the sinner." But, God's hate-list does not seem to make so nice a distinction. It seems to specifically target the AGENTS of that sin. Does adherence to Proverbs 6:16-19 require us to reject the mantra cited above?

James Fleming


Yes, there would be a connection. It is very evident when Jesus "cleansed" the temple, His state prompted his disciples to recall this passage: "Zeal for Your house will consume me" (John 2:17). But the key is in understanding the difference between the "anger of man" and the "anger of God." The former is centered on the things that men get worked up over, pride, power, pleasure, and reputation. The latter is about the things God hates. We need to be careful. Our sinful self can easily justify anger over "man-stuff" by attempting to label it "God-stuff." And it is easy to start out with righteous anger and have it devolve into unrighteous anger when self get's involved. But I am certain that hating the things God hates will sometimes generate some pure heat.

So in a church where the gossip-mill is churning, holy hatred would get a man off the couch and prompt him to take action to deal with this thing. To keep from crossing the line, he needs to make sure that his method of dealing with sin in the fellowship is guided by relevant passages of Scripture. But his holy hatred would be the fuel that keeps him motivated to carry out steps of confrontation and restoration.

Yes, some of the "things God hates" are people. But it is also true that Jesus was called a friend of sinners! I think the balance lies in discerning that some of the persons on God's hate list are not "one time offenders." They persist in a certain kind of behavior to a point of being defined by it. And the man or woman whose life orbits around something God hates will find himself despised by God.

Remember, too, that right now God is being patient. Someday His patience will end. This is a particularly sobering thought when we think of the after-life. Each man's life on this earth is about determining what defines him. When the definition has been written, he dies. Those whose lives have been defined by the things God hates will experience the full brunt of God's hatred of both sin and sinner when His patience has ended.

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