Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore, let us go forth to him outside the camp, bearing his reproach. For we have no continuing city here, but we seek one to come.
Select a thought to read by choosing a collection, the month, and then the day:
“These six things doth the Lord hate; yea, seven are an abomination to Him. A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked imaginations, feet that are swift to run to mischief, a false witness that speaks lies, and he who sows discord among brethren.”
David, speaking to his son in Proverbs 6:16
In Proverbs 6, David listed for his son’s benefit seven things that God especially hates. Thinking on those things recently, I pondered over this question: If God especially hates those seven things, then what are their opposites, for God must especially love them? So, I sat down with my son Elijah and we set about to determine what seven things are especially precious to God. This is the fifth of those seven precious things.
God does not hate feet. He created them for us to walk on. When David told his son that God abhors “feet that are swift to run to mischief”, he was describing an attitude, not a part of the human anatomy, that God despises.
Some people become excited at the opportunity to participate in evil, but there are others who love righteousness so much that they can sense when some wicked deed is about to take place and get away.
Under the law of Moses, if someone wanted to set himself apart for God for a certain amount of time, God made a way for him to do so. It was called “the law of the Nazarite”. You could choose the length of time you would be a Nazarite, completely devoted to the Lord, but God determined the rules you had to observe during that time, and those rules resembled the rules that Israel’s high priest had to live by.
One of the Nazarite rules that was the same as the rules for Israel’s high priest was that you could not touch a dead body, not even if your mother or father died. By way of example, do you know what would happen if you vowed to be a Nazarite for a month, but during that month you even accidentally touched a dead body? All the time of your vow to God would be lost; it would not count for anything. It hardly sounds “fair”, does it? A man dies suddenly of a heart attack, falls and touches you, and it costs you all the days that you had consecrated to the Lord. But that is how it worked.
Spiritually, that is how it works as well. Some of God’s children seem to be continually in the wrong place at the wrong time and to get caught up in conversations and deeds that do not please God and that make them feel heavy with condemnation. These dear brothers and sisters seem always to be in need of counsel and very seldom are able to give any to others. They do not see themselves as being “swift to run to mischief”, but somehow, they constantly find themselves in the middle of something that is not quite right. And they find themselves there because in their hearts, they love to be involved in mischief, or to “be in the know” and involved in ungodly talk. But are they guilty? Is it fair to blame them if the person they called or visited unexpectedly brought up that gossip? Jesus thinks so. In fact, Jesus thinks that it was in hope of hearing that unseemly talk is the real reason you wanted to speak to that person in the first place, and that if your heart was pure, you would have wanted to talk to someone else instead, someone who had edifying things to say.
Now, at the other end of the spectrum, there are people whose spirits are so clean and whose minds are so set on godliness that they can sense when something is heading in the wrong direction, and they make choices that help them escape the evil that is coming. This is the kind of heart that God especially loves. Such saints do not have to be told when to take their leave of a situation, or when to cut off a conversation, or when to refuse an invitation, or when to say something that will make for peace and joy, or when to visit someone. They are what I call “low-maintenance saints” because they have been faithful to God and “have exercised their senses to discern good and evil.” They do not have to be constantly rescued from ditches into which they have fallen, or constantly cleansed from the taint of bad influences. They do not have to constantly have their thoughts straightened out again because of another long and involved conversation with a wicked person. Their lives are uncomplicated and good because they live close to the uncomplicated and good Jesus. They are edifying examples of righteousness, peace, and joy. They are not confused by anything God does because they know from the beginning that His wisdom is beyond theirs and they are content with trusting Him.
God dearly loves such humble people. They keep their conscience clear, and as a result are able to sense when something is drawing near that would sully that clean conscience. In some respects, they live more in the invisible world of God than in this visible world of the flesh, and because of that, others marvel how they “knew” to leave before the trouble started, or how they seem never to be around when conversations go wrong and bad attitudes are communicated.
The answer is simply that they love God. They do not “run swiftly to mischief” because they are always running toward righteousness instead. That is their secret. They have no interest in, no curiosity about, and no spiritual connection with mischief. They are among the few on earth who have found the narrow way that leads to eternal life, and God very dearly loves them.