November 29, 2010
Dick and I were standing in the airport in Nairobi, waiting to get our boarding pass for the flight home, he to Nashville, me to Burlington. Dick is a well-respected businessman, at the top of his field in health care management, and just an all-around nice guy. We had been in Kenya with some other men from Nashville for over a week and had just arrived from spending some time in a tent safari camp out on the African plains. I was asking Dick about his plans for when he got home when suddenly his expression changed from pleasant to greatly disturbed. Some bystanders may have called it “mildly terrified,” if that is a possible state in which to be. Dick reached both hands over his head, grabbed the pullover jacket he was wearing, and ripped it off, throwing it to the floor. The guards in the airport, all of whom carry AK-47’s, tensed, pointer fingers moving to trigger position. I had no idea what was going on and what had gotten into this mild-mannered businessman. Some Kenyans standing in line with us started to laugh, while others looked on with curiosity. That’s when I saw the source of Dick’s concern: A bug, looking like something from outer space, very large with long legs and wings, twice the size of a praying mantis, walked out of the inside of Dick’s jacket and began to make its way across the floor of the terminal. I looked at the hideous creature and remembered Woody Allen’s quip in a movie: “There’s a spider in your bathroom the size of a Buick,” and I shuddered at the thought of that thing crawling across my neck.
I thought about that incident last week when I read Charles Spurgeon and Richard Sibbes on the subject of a Christian’s proper relationship with sin. Spurgeon said, “We cannot love God without hating that which He hates. We are not only to avoid evil … but we must be in arms against it, and bear towards it a hearty indignation.” Richard Sibbes went so far as to say that if hatred of sin is a proof of our conversion, we must know if we truly hate sin. He listed five markers for how we know we hate sin:
If our hatred for sin is universal. “He that hates sin truly hates all sin.”
If our hatred for sin is fixed. “There is no appeasing it, rather by abolishing of the thing hated.”
If our hatred of sin is a more rooted affection than anger. “Anger may be appeased, but hatred remains and sets itself against the whole kind.”
If we hate all evil, in ourselves first, and then in others. “He that hates a toad would hate it most in his own bosom.” That’s the part that reminded me of Dick and the bug he was about to carry on the plane. If I hate the thought of the bug inside my shirt, how much more should I hate sin inside my heart?
If we can endure admonition and reproof for sin and not be enraged. “Those that swell against reproof do not appear to hate sin.”
Dick boarded the plane that day with a grateful heart, thankful that he discovered his uninvited boarder before being stung or bitten. Think about how he responded. He immediately took action as soon as he knew there was something wrong. He threw off that which was unwelcome and potentially dangerous. He left it behind.
“He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.”