"Therefore I consider all your precepts to be right; I hate every false way." -- Psalm 119:128
Do I though? Do I really hate EVERY false way? Or are there some "false ways" that I really like? Are there "false ways" that I benefit from or enjoy the fruits of so I keep quiet about them and go on taking advantage of them for my personal gain?
These days it seems everyone has their favorite cause. We adopt them like pets from a shelter, put them on a fancy leash with a shiny collar and walk them around town so everyone can see what authentic, deeply caring, socially conscious people we are. We desktop activists hit the "like" button for our favorite issues -- women's rights, gay rights, animal rights, pro-life, pro-choice, save the rain forest, protect the environment, boycott companies with reckless disregard for the size of their carbon footprint, global warming, racial injustices, immigration reform and refugees seeking asylum, MAGA...
One thing is clear: We all know something has gone horribly wrong with this world. And most of us would agree that it largely has to do with humans. But where we miss it, IMHO, is that we have become really good at pointing the finger at everyone else and blaming them for the mess we are in (echoes of Eden... "It's the woman... no, it was YOU who gave her to me... No, it was the snake!"), seldom considering the hundreds of ways we are every bit as stupid and selfish. For every pet cause we like to feel righteously indignant about, we have a pet hypocrisy we sneak scraps to under the table. We all have them -- blind spots we just can't recognize (or won't) because it feeds our desire for pleasure, comfort, safety and security, meaning and purpose.
David issues a challenge here to our carefully constructed fortress of righteous solitude: IF you truly consider ALL God's precepts to be right, THEN you must hate EVERY false way. No exceptions. You may not hold back any for yourself, or keep a couple in your pocket for special occasions. Everything false must go. Everything that the filter of God's revealed Truth doesn't allow through.
- Things that we rely n to make us feel safe other than the Truth that He is our only safe place, our only rock, refuge, shield, shelter, hiding place.
- Things that we delight in other than His beauty and glory. All that we consider beautiful or desirable is only an echo of the Beautiful One who created it, so why would we allow our worship to terminate on the creation rather than the Creator?
- Things we look to for our identity, affirmation, and worth other than the love God has for us, the delight He takes in us, the precious blood of His only begotten Son, as that of a spotless Lamb, which He poured out completely -- not a drop withheld from us!
Hating every false way means letting go of some things we would rather hold on to; it means admitting you have been wrong about something you could have sworn you were right about, and now all your friends will think you're crazy.
Look, there's nothing wrong with standing up, speaking out, and acting on behalf of a worthwhile cause. Scripture teaches that those who truly know God will delight in what delights Him -- justice for the voiceless and vulnerable, the poor and powerless, the overlooked and outcast. Those who love God will hate the abuse of power by the dominant over the marginalized minority. They will abhor the corruption of justice, bought and sold at the expense of the widow, the orphan, the stranger, the sick and disabled. He expects those who bear His name to act on their behalf IN HIS NAME precisely because it is His name we bear and its authority we are called to wield wisely.
So... real talk...for me personally: Do I really care about the systemic, institutionalized racialization of America, of the nearly invisible and almost imperceptible cancer of white supremacy that disadvantages blacks and other minorities with patriotic zeal?
Do I just want to appear "woke" to my ministry peers? I can read the books and learn the lingo, but if I truly "consider all Your precepts to be right," what will I actually DO abut it? Do I really hate EVERY false way enough to put my reputation and relationships at risk in order to stand up, speak out, and act on behalf of black and minority Americans, many of whom hate me just because I'm white?
Will I "hate the false way" of demonizing those whose sexual desires are different than mine, labeling them as a group to be hated or a problem to be solved rather than seeing them as human beings in need of compassion? I don't have to compromise my belief in what the Bible teaches about gender, sexuality, or marriage to just simply see another person as a human with a soul and treat them with dignity and respect. Will I even bother to get to know him or her before I stick them in a cage in my brain, lock the door, label the cage and walk away?
Will I "hate every false way" when it comes to justice for the immigrant, the refugee, the oppressed asylum seekers trying to make a better life for their families, even though almost every other white evangelical sees them as a liberal political issue to be debated dispassionately, as if they weren't humans with souls?
Will I "hate the false way" of hypocrisy when it comes to the militant right-wing conservative party line on abortion rights? Yes, abortion is murder, no question. Yes, it must be stopped, I agree. But are we false to the truth by mobilizing in the millions for the rights of UN-born children while, at the same time, turning a blind eye to the ALREADY-born children flooding our foster care system in America? Why is there a foster care crisis in this country with more churches than Starbucks? Why do Christians in America not step up and eliminate this crisis overnight by taking in these children who, remember, were once unborn and to be protected at all costs?
Father, "I am Your servant; give me understanding, that I may know Your testimonies." It's a crazy world and I need wisdom to sift through the lies and the spin, to know what's true and hate what's false. Begin with me, right here, in my own heart. In Jesus' Name, Amen!