How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity! It is like precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard. Psalm 133:1
Loving what God loves and hating what He hates never comes easy. Do you know why? Most of the time, our agenda and His are not moving the same way. It’s the age-old conflict of a child’s will versus the will of his father. When our first grandson began to talk, one of the first phrases that he mastered clearly was, “I want....” But the way the youngster voiced it made it clear that he didn’t need any encouragement to be assertive. He had his own agenda, and he was intent on getting his way.
What impressed me is that this was the very behavior I had observed in his mother a generation before, and I’m confident was in his mother’s father (myself) as a child.
Long ago the writer of Proverbs gave us a list of what God loves and what He hates--not food choices, or the music genres--but habit patterns of His children which He finds completely unacceptable. “There are six things the LORD hates, seven that are detestable to him,” wrote Solomon. The seventh in the list is “a man who stirs up dissension among brothers” (Proverbs 6:19). “Sowing discord among brothers” is the way another translation puts it: a trouble maker, a person whose inflammatory comments divide people against each other. It happens in the office, in clubs, in organizations, and certainly in churches and fellowships.
Someone once said, “Living with the saints above may be glory, but living with the saints below is quite another story.” The New Testament letters are filled with strong words for those who create division among brothers and sisters. To the Romans Paul wrote, “I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people” (Romans 16:17-18).
In the introduction to his letter to the Corinthians Paul was extremely displeased that the church had been split into four factions, each of which felt that they were superior to the others. What God hates is not the individual who raises his voice in maintaining purity of doctrine but the individual who maliciously and wrongly divides, usually by what he says.
A pastor friend of mine tells about a deacon who used to accost him almost every Sunday just as he was to go on the platform to preach, saying, “Pastor, I don’t care what people are saying about you, I still love you!” And he would think, “What are they saying about me?”
“Christians don’t gossip,” says my daughter, Bonnie, “they just share prayer requests.” Uh-huh. Remember the admonition of Solomon: God hates the troublemaker who spoils the peace and divides the body through inferences, gossip, and innuendoes.
Divisions result from ego--insisting on your personal will rather than asking, “Lord, what is your will in this issue?” Instead we become willing to divide a church, an organization, or a group, insisting that we are right. But be sure before you create disharmony that your concern is the same thing that concerns God, not simply an extension of your individual, selfish will. Hating what God hates means we strive for peace and oppose division pitting brother against brother. It’s still true. God hates those who sow discord among brothers.
Resource reading: Genesis 37:12-36.