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Our oldest daughter, Taylor, turned 16 this month. When we look back at our parenting from when she was a newborn to a toddler to now, a lot has changed. Our parenting continued to change as our three other daughters were born.

I remember with Taylor, whenever her pacifier would drop on the ground, it would get boiled in water before being allowed to go back in her mouth. Similar precautions were made ranging from how cleaning supplies were stored to what television shows were sanctioned for viewing.

Gradually, as parents, we began to trust the immune system and realized we didn’t need to boil the pacifier. As well, discernment developed regarding the maturity level and what story lines they can handle or what friends to be around. This is all part of the transfer of responsibility between a parent and a child.

If we keep everything under lock and key, put a Mr. Yuck sticker on every potentially poisonous substance, and shield our children in the proverbial bubble, they will never develop their own immune response to what can damage them physically or damage their soul. However, there is poison in the world. And I would submit we should even label them as things to hate because of the damage they cause.

I have been wondering if am as conscientious now about the spiritual poison I am allowing into my kid’s lives as I have been in the past keeping cleaning supplies put up and plastic covers over the electrical outlets. Am I careful with the music they listen to, shows they watch, and people they are shaped by?

What about the responsibility we have in the church? As leaders, we should be training people to be haters of actions and attitudes that do damage physically and spiritually within our community. God is a hater. His love for people stirs hatred toward things that hurt them. Proverbs 6:16-19 outlines seven things that God hates and that are detestable to him. I want to mention two:

1. Gossip.

If someone is complaining about a problem with another person who has no ability or authority to solve it, then it is gossip. We call these negative conversations all kinds of things to justify them, from “venting” to “the prayer request”. We must be so careful not to couch gossip with God-talk. That is gross. God hates it. It damages community. It pulls people apart. There is nothing good produced by it. We should be creating cultures of gossip-haters.

2. Wolves.

These individuals are not easy to define, but they are poison. Jesus (Matthew 7:15) told us to watch out for them (Matthew 7:15) and Paul told us they will come (Acts 20:29; Romans 16:17-20). I know we must be careful about rashly labeling someone a wolf. To paraphrase Eugene Peterson, the church is made up of a bunch of sinners, pastored by a bunch of sinners. So a wolf is not simply an imperfect person in our midst. There wouldn’t be anyone left in the church if we drove all those people away.

Two broad definitions I would submit are those that work to hurt people and help Satan. There are those who use the church community to take advantage of people. Satan is a thief. Satan is the father of lies. Satan is the accuser of the brethren. Wolves are on the side of the enemy. Those working to bring harm to the church are wolves. Wolves are poison to the church and we should hate them.

If there is poor health in the church, could the reason be we are not a strong enough hater?

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