The book of Proverbs is filled with wisdom. This wisdom covers all sorts of topics related to a life of faith, from the very pursuit of wisdom (Proverbs 2:1–15) to avoiding adultery and other immorality (Proverbs 5:1–5) to the call to avoid laziness (Proverbs 6:6–11). A significant part of true wisdom is knowing and understanding the Lord. In chapter 6 we read of seven things the Lord hates, and these seven things reveal something of his character to us.
There are six things that the LORD hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.Proverbs 6:16–19 ESV
This list is one most would readily acknowledge. Pride is often revealed through haughty eyes—looking down on others. We easily recognize the evil of lying, particularly the one who lies repeatedly. Murder is, of course, a great evil. All evil is evil, but there is something particularly sinister about those who devise wicked plans, who carefully craft their plans for wickedness. These are often the same people whose feet are quick to run to evil, to participate in the wickedness of others. False witnesses are a plague on any society. If a nation’s justice system is corrupted by those willing to lie under oath, we all suffer the consequences.
Most people throughout the world would recognize these six things the Lord hates. None of these is particularly insightful into the character of God, though all reveal his character. Our natural sense of what is good and right reveals these things are evil. The author uses a literary device to call attention to the seventh. When he writes, “There are six things that the LORD hates, seven that are an abomination to him,” he is calling special attention to the seventh. The six are things the Lord hates, yet the seventh is the one the author is emphasizing, and it is the one that is the most revealing.
The seventh thing the Lord hates is the one who sows discord among brothers. By placing this seventh in the list, the reader is called to understand the Lord better by recognizing the particularly evil nature of this behavior. The one who sows discord, or disunity, among brothers is committing a special evil in the eyes of the Lord.
We’ve all known such people. They play one person against another in the office–or in the church. They spread bits of gossip that is intended to divide. They often complain about everything, tailoring their complaints to the person they’re with. They don’t merely sow discord; they pursue it.
Why is this the thing the Lord hates most? Consider the Lord’s prayer. No, not that one—the one he prayed for us in John 17.
I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.John 17:20–23 ESV
When the Lord Jesus prayed for his disciples, he also prayed for us directly. He said he wasn’t praying only for the disciples who walked with him, but for each one of us who have believed through their word. Every follower of Jesus is a direct spiritual descendant from the apostles for we have the gospel through their witness.
Notice how Jesus connects our unity in the faith to himself. He prays for our unity for our unity is a mirror reflecting the unity of Jesus and the Father. Further, our unity points others to Jesus and his mission, which is to save many from their sins. He prays that we “may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me”.
Why does the Lord hate the one who sows discord among brothers? Because such behavior is directly counter to his mission. It is counter to his own character. It is, in fact, the spirit of antichrist, for disunity is in opposition to the mission of God in this world.
Pursuing unity, then, is a witness to the world. We live in a broken and fractured world that lacks unity in nearly every area of life. In an election year this disunity we experience in our broader culture is even more pronounced. A quick perusal of social media will readily confirm this.
What this means for us is we can be a light to the world by pursuing unity in our church! We can demonstrate the reality of God in Christ by being united even though we are black and white, Asian and Hispanic, even though we are rich and poor, even though we are Democrats and Republicans and Libertarians and Independents, even though we love sports and hate sports. The importance of unity is proclaimed throughout the New Testament Scriptures. It is a significant theme throughout Paul’s letters to the Romans, to the Ephesians, and the Galatians, and to the Corinthians. In Christ there is neither Jew nor Gentile, slave or free, male or female. The point in this is our unity in Christ, even in the midst of our very real differences.
We have an incredible opportunity over these next few months leading up to election day—and the days and weeks after—to demonstrate the unity our great God and Savior desires of his people. We can avoid the very thing the Lord hates, while demonstrating his greatness to the world around us that desperately needs unity but is trapped in disunity. Let’s show the world what our God is like.