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Signposts: Daily Devotions

Written by Anne Robertson

Thursday, February 17

Hate evil and love good.
—Amos 5:15

It seems this verse is a no-brainer. We hate evil and love good just by definition…otherwise we wouldn’t call them “good” and “evil.” Of course Amos has some very particular definitions for what comprise good and evil, as he rounds out the sentence with “establish justice in the gate.” But, even so, I think there is more than just the obvious.

Personally, I try to do good, with either greater or lesser success. As I look at this verse, however, I realize that often I don’t really “love” good. I am trying to do good out of a sense of duty or obligation or because I’m afraid of what will happen if I don’t. I think if I actually loved good, I would succeed more often.

Things I truly hate, I avoid. Things I truly love, I seek out.

Suppose I really hated evil and loved good? My life would be different. Christian evangelism might be different as well. Often we try to bring others into faith by either promising a reward or threatening punishment for non-compliance. But “Do good, or else” is not what Amos is talking about here.

The book of Amos does threaten destruction, but fear about what will happen to a nation that does not practice justice is not what Amos wants as a motivation for behavior. He is asking us truly, in our heart of hearts, to learn to hate what is evil and love what is good. He knows that those who honestly love justice will seek it out and that those who hate evil will flee from it.

That rings true for me. I want my cat to truly love sleeping in his cat bed rather than on the cable box. That would be much more effective than the reward/punishment model currently holding sway. And maybe if I could truly grasp God’s love of me and of the world, I could love good, and therefore do good, as God does.


Good and just God, help us better to love the good in you. Amen.

These Signposts originally appeared on explorefaith in 2006.