Sunday, 7 August 2016


“He was despised and rejected--a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief”
In the world we are often familiar with what rejection means – it is seen in job applications, relationship breakdowns, submissions of our work to prospective buyers and many other areas. We are perhaps less familiar with being despised, some of us. The term means to be treated with contempt and dislike.
Those who belong to a minority group in a particular situation may be familiar with being despised e.g. being the only indigenous person in a workplace. Sometimes Christians are treated with contempt for the same reason.
There may be other, more hidden situations where one experiences being despised. For example, within a relationship or family situation there may be one member who is treated with contempt. This may be the way of some to establish dominance and control or compensate for their own low self-esteem – by belittling a person’s worth, abilities, choices and values.
Within a culture, the same thing can happen. People can be despised because of their age, ethnicity, sex and cultural background, their size and shape, their financial status or their occupation, to name just a few factors. Satan, the architect of vanity, never ceases to encourage us to make ourselves feel good by making someone else feel inferior.
People may live with those who despise them for many years, sometimes even a lifetime.
Jesus knew what it was like to be despised. The Bible indicates that there were those who cast aspersions about His earthly parentage, in a society where illegitimacy was a great shame. Whilst He was loved by many, He was also opposed and mocked wherever He went. People who threaten the status quo and challenge the values of the elite often find themselves the target of ridicule and dislike, even hatred.  Such was the love of God’s Son that He experienced all the derision of man in His earthly ministry. As such, He fully identifies with what we, His children experience.
In His final earthly hours, Jesus endured being despised in its most extreme form. He was mocked and jeered at, His title and name were made fun of and His ministry parodied. As He hung on the cross, those who He was giving His life away for continued to jeer and challenge Him. Yet His attitude was always one of love and grace, without retaliation.
Isaiah 49:16 tells us “I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me.” Our names were engraved on Jesus’s hands with iron nails.
The opposite of despising someone is to respect them. Throughout the gospels we are given examples of the way in which Jesus respected people who were despised and outcasts. He showed love and compassion to lepers, and criminals and tax collectors and adulterous women.  As a Jew, He asked a Samaritan woman for a drink. In a totally counter-cultural way, He showed love to the poor and condemned the hard-heartedness of the wealthy and powerful.
Such is the greatness of our living God. Each person in this world who knows and feels the sting of contempt can also know the love and respect that our Heavenly Father pours out on us. You are not rubbish in His eyes. You are made in His image, worthy of love and respect. The Bible tells us that all have sinned and fallen short, but God has redeemed those who come to Him in repentance and faith in His Son. If you are not already a Christian, the true and living God, the God of love and life is waiting to receive your prayer of faith today.

Monday, 1 August 2016

What does God hate?

As we read through the Biblical book of Proverbs, we learn much wisdom that has been imparted to man through the Holy Spirit and recorded by Solomon. There is counsel about being prudent in relation to conduct, business affairs, relationships with others and avoiding temptation. There is advice about following closely after God and obeying His commands, the result being the blessing of God upon your life.
There are a number of passages in the book of Proverbs which express clearly the things that God hates and despises because they tell us this in no uncertain terms. It’s an interesting exercise to go through the book and note these passages.

3:32 “the Lord detests a perverse man” – perverse being someone who deliberately and wilfully behaves contrary to what is expected of him or her. We look today at people who desire to impact on others by rudeness, or shock value or deliberately destroying or mocking what is socially considered appropriate behaviour, and this is an attitude which God despises.
This verse is expanded upon in Proverbs 11:20 “The Lord detests men of perverse heart” which demonstrates that our innermost thoughts and intents are known by God before they become actions. Jesus spoke along these lines when He talked of committing adultery or murder in the heart before any actual actions occurring, and these thoughts and intents too being accountable to God (see Matthew 5:28, or 1 John 3:15).

6:16 “seven [things] that are detestable to Him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked scheme, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers.”  
12:22 “The Lord detests lying lips”
16:5 “The Lord detests all the proud of heart”
How we relate one to another is of great importance to God. The need to be honest is reiterated throughout scripture and is one of the ten commandments. Again, we see that attitudes and thoughts are accountable before God, as well as actions. Those of us involved in church congregations do well to take good heed of the last item in the list in 6:16. Churches and ministries can be destroyed by sparks of gossip, criticism, power plays and factional infighting.

11:1 “The Lord abhors dishonest scales”
12:2 “but the Lord condemns a crafty man.”
20:10 “Differing weights and differing measures- the Lord detests them both”
20:23 “The Lord detests differing weights and dishonest scales do not please Him.”
The above verses signify that God wants us to be fair and honest in our business dealings, not trying to cheat or swindle anyone. In this way Christians can be well respected and trusted in their dealings, particularly in the face of cultural practices which encourage exploitation.

15:8 “The Lord detests the sacrifice of the wicked”
15:26 “The Lord detests the thoughts of the wicked”.
God knows our innermost thoughts, and the motives we have for doing things. We are warned elsewhere in the Bible that God searches the heart (eg.1 Samuel 16:7). Jesus tells us that many will come to Him stating that they have done wonders in His name, yet He will tell them that He does not know them (Matthew 7:21-23).  He wants relationship and obedience, and sacrifice from a heart full of love and gratitude to Him.  

When we see the things that God detests written clearly in the book of Proverbs, it helps us to identify areas of our lives where we can be obedient to His will. We can strive to be civil and courteous to others; we can be honest; we can be mediators and peacemakers; we can promote the welfare of the poor and needy; we can be humble and inclusive of others irrespective of their social standings, and we can set an example of fair and honest business dealings. May all these things help to further our ministries for God’s glory.