Amos 5:14- Seek good not evil that you may live. Then the Lord God will be with you just as you say He is. Hate evil, love good. 21 "I hate, I despise your religious festivals; I cannot stand your assemblies. 22 Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them. Though you bring choice fellowship offerings, I will have no regard for them.
23 Away with the noise of your songs! I will not listen to the music of your harps. 24 But let justice roll on like a river,
righteousness like a never-failing stream!
(Amos and the People- Guy Rowe d. 1968)
Thoughts: We cannot ignore being true in life and expect our worship to be seen as true to God. The context of Amos 5 is that the prophet rebuked the people for not being fair in the courts; accepting bribes; treating the poor with contempt; He calls them to hate evil and love good or the Day of the Lord's wrath will come upon them and they will be taken away. Religion is not just to make us feel good and comfortable or to fulfill some need we have. True religion and worship spawns care for the neighbor who is hurting, as true love for God elicits love for neighbor.
In our day we are called to hate evil and love good. We do not define what is evil and good apart from God's Word or despite God's Word. Rather we are called to listen to how God has defined what is right and seek to love the Lord's definition of righteousness not our own wishes and feelings about what is right. The heart is evil, and can deceive us. Our best reasoning can be corrupted by our pride and selfishness. Religion that just makes us feel good, or that is only about tolerance (which also is injust in that it refuses to hate evil) misses the mark. All the singing; all the giving; all the crowds mean nothing if it does not change our lives and even change the world for better! Jesus was saying this to the Pharisees- there is exterior worship that is for show and comfort; and there is worship from the heart that changes lives and the world. True worship makes true hearts which brings forth true justice and righteousness.
Prayer: Lord, let your justice roll through me to others. Give me strength and insight to hate what is evil and love the good.
John Calvin abridged: God sought to bless the people, but they turned away from His blessing- seeking evil instead. When the consequences and punishment for doing evil came, they complained about their misery as if it were solely God's fault! But they were not only alienated from good, they were eagerly seeking what was evil. God, the holy, will not dwell with us unless we seek to be holy and sanctify ourselves (Lev. 11:44). The sacrifices of the people were often reprehended by the prophets when not accompanied by godliness and sincerity. They believed they pacified God with external sacrifices yet continuing obstinately in their sins.