You can tell a lot about a culture by the values it promotes. In our culture today, the most promoted value seems to be “tolerance.” The worst thing you can call someone, apparently, is “intolerant.” As our society has defined this value, it seems to mean that we should accept anything anyone does and, at least be silent about it. In some cases, you are required to celebrate those actions. There is no good; there is no evil; there is only “tolerance for all.”
The problem with this view for the Christian is that it flies in the face of Scriptural values. As a follower of Christ, I am called to love all people, no matter what they do, but I am also called to stand for God’s truth. In God’s view there is good, and there is evil. As I have reflected on the idea of good and evil, I think it’s fair to say that that which is good, is that which strengthens our relationship with God. That which is evil is that which separates us from God. The Psalmist put it this way: “Let those who love the Lord hate evil, for he guards the lives of his faithful ones and delivers them from the hand of the wicked.” (Psalm 97:10)
The problem for Christians is that it is often hard to show our hatred for evil without appearing to be judgmental. Our hatred for evil must also show an overwhelming love for the person trapped in that evil. We are called to “…love the sinner.” (Two notes: yes, I know I left off the first part that everyone likes to say. I did that on purpose. Just in case I haven’t made this part clear “love the sinner” includes all people, especially people like me.) In loving the sinner, we often express our hatred for the evil that ensnares them and people focus on our hatred of the action, rather than our love for the person. Often, we focus so much on the action that the person is forgotten in the discussion. Our job, in this delicate balancing act, is to hate the evil so much that we show such great love for the sinner that we point them towards God whose responsibility it is to deal with the evil things in their lives.
I have avoided mentioning specific sins, because anytime you start a list like that it will be incomplete and it will cause people whose sins are named to bristle and be defensive. That being said, even going to church can be evil if we do so with the wrong motive. If we go to score brownie points with God, or to show the rest of society how much better we are than them, we are drawing away from God by going to church. Even that which seems good can be evil if done with the wrong intentions. I fully support going to church. I go to worship our living God. I go to get a spiritual recharge. I go not because I am better than others, but because I recognize the magnitude of my sin, and the forgiveness and grace of God to draw me closer to Him. So examine your life and your actions today. Think about what God says about them. Think about how they affect your relationship with God. Then, do that which is good and draw closer to God – He’s waiting for you.
Lord God, it would be so easy if we had a checklist of good and evil so that we know what to avoid and what to do. Yet even fulfilling that checklist might make our attitudes wrong. Let me live each day finding what You want in my life and drawing closer to You.