Abstain from all appearance of evil. 1 Thessalonians 5:22
This verse has been ringing in my hearing for days now and as I’ve been meditating, I can’t help but to think, again, my understanding has been wrong concerning this.
What is it we perceive to be evil?
Of course, there’s all the obvious.
Thou shalt have no other gods before Me.
Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:
Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;
And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.
Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.
Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:
But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:
For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.
Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.
Thou shalt not kill.
Thou shalt not commit adultery.
Thou shalt not steal.
Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.
Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s.
Believe me when I say this, we must hate what God hates and must avoid it. That’s wisdom.
But we are mislead and even deceived in thinking we are good if we fail to encounter what God hates and change it!
The word says, abstain from the very appearance of evil.
It’s evil not to reveal who the One True and Living God is to someone who has all their other gods before them.
It’s evil not to wade in ankle, hip, and dare I say it, neck-deep through graven images to reveal His image!
It’s evil not to speak His name and demonstrate the power with which it was meant to be spoken, when we hear someone run off at the mouth with “%@#!?*& Jesus Christ!” Do they realize they just called His very presence? He wants to know them.
It’s evil not to decline to participate in the “goings on” and demonstrate His rest from having to “have” and “get” and “do”. Gasp! Go ahead, judge me.
It’s evil not to honor your Father and Mother and be a help to them. For many, this is easy and I am well aware that this can’t be said of everyone and for that I’m sorry.
It’s evil to physically kill someone yes but do we realize that we do this even when we gossip or by speaking of someone’s sin to someone else? We are killing their reputation and whats worse, doing the devils work with him because that’s his plan. To see us all dead.
It’s evil to commit adultery but we do it every day. It’s not just about “marriage” to our spouse. It’s about loving only our God. Jesus said in Matthew 10:37, “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.” We have to love him more than we love our husbands, wives and children. More than our sisters and brothers. More than our fathers, mothers, father in-laws and mother in-laws. More than our friends. And most importantly, more than ourself. It’s about His pleasure and not our own. No husband wants a wife who takes more pleasure in herself than in Him.
It’s evil to steal. And we’re stealing from God with, “more for me” mentality. I’m not talking about “more of God” for me but I’m talking about the work of the thief. He comes to steal, kill and destroy. Robbing Him, when we don’t offer salvation, heal the sick, bring deliverance, offer forgiveness and extend grace. Stealing opportunities for Him to LOVE!
It’s evil to bear false witness against thy neighbor (another person). John Gill’s Exposition says it best I think, “by laying things to his charge that are false, and swearing to them, to his hurt and damage; nor privately, by whispering, tale bearing, backbiting, slandering, by telling lies of him, traducing his character by innuendos, sly insinuations, and evil suggestions, whereby he may suffer in his character, credit, and reputation, and in his trade and business”. I have a gripe, I’ll admit. We should not parent, lead, or minister based on what one child or person says about another that has gone unwitnessed. Neighborhoods were never meant to have fences where you have to chose to take one side or the other. Our approach should be in this, love your neighbor as yourself. Scrap the fence! If when you discipline, you aren’t concerned for whether or not they are feeling loved, it’s not Word based. Father corrects those he loves and I’ve never known anyone to make eye contact, hug, or embrace with a fence in between them.
It’s evil to covet your neighbor’s (another person) anything. We shouldn’t want what’s not rightfully ours. Believe me, the Jones’ have to put their pants on one leg at a time too, take ibuprofen for their headaches, put camphophinic on their canker sores and put calimine lotion on their chicken pox! They might have the best job, biggest house, the hottest car, the latest in technology, 2 kids, no pets (because their allergic and you shouldn’t have one either), etc, etc. but they can’t get to heaven without Jesus, just like you.
I said all this to say more. I’m sorry.
What is the appearance of evil to God?
Does it look evil to Him when someone goes unloved, when it’s within our power to love?
Does it look evil to Him when someone goes unfed and there’s an empty seat at our table and plenty to go around?
Does it look evil when a man lives under a bridge and we don’t even slow down?
Does it look evil when we find that he’s a drunk and judge that he deserves it and put himself there?
Or, how about when we find out that she chose to live on the street and that she has money? She could be helping herself. Can she really? Are we excused then to deprive her of Jesus?
Does it look evil when a child is laying in a crib for three years and no one touches that little one, except to change his diaper? Does it appear evil, when I fail to reach out and hold them in my arms?
Does it look evil when a child orphaned, four years old, has never spoken and later his testimony is, “I didn’t have anything to say.”… Does it look evil when I’m the one who could be listening?
Help me Lord. In all of this. Help me. I know it looks bad. I look bad. Even evil. Help me.