I once heard of two older ladies who took a cooking class at a local college. The instructor was describing the process of hollowing out an egg. The teacher told the class to first perforate the egg at the basal end, and then repeat the action on the apex. Then, placing your lips over one end, with forcible exhaling, remove the contents of the egg. One of the older women turned to the other and said, "These new fangled ways sure beat all. In the old days, we just poked a hole at both ends and blowed."
Isn't it great when something is said where there is no misunderstanding or ambiguity? In Proverbs 6:16-19, Solomon gives us a list of six things that the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to Him. There is no question or uncertainty to this list, so we know exactly what God thinks and what we need to avoid. This list is helpful in evaluating our ministries and ourselves. Use this divine checklist of actions or traits to avoid as a standard and goal.
The first in God's list is having haughty eyes. Having an attitude of pride that is arrogant, snobbish, or exalts us over others is wrong. It is said that pride always goes before a fall. Having a good self-image is important, but not when we view ourselves as superior to others and see them with disdain. In pregnancy center ministry, we can never look at clients with an air of judgment. We all have sinned and fallen short of God's glory (Romans 3:23). Entertaining the thoughts or voicing, "I would never..." or "How could they...?" is to open the door to deception that renders us powerless in the counseling room. If it were not for the grace of God, we would be in their same situation, or worse. Some of us were. Therefore, to counter a prideful spirit, we need to be humble and remember the forgiveness we have received from the Lord. God loves our clients and wants to forgive and set them free, too.
The second is a lying tongue. The Lord desires honesty and truth. The reality of a lie is that it always leads to more. In order to cover a lie, deception and concealment must continue, but there is always an end. The truth will eventually come out with hurt and destruction as a result. The phrase "Honesty is always the best policy" is forever true. Sometimes fear, uncertainty, or shame can lead to the temptation not to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. An attempt to hide or cover over something in the past actually provides a foothold for Satan to work and have a point of power. The way to overcome a lie or close an area of satanic entry is to be honest. Jesus said, "The truth will set you free" (John 8:32). This is why pregnancy center ministry is committed to telling our clients the truth about abortion, its effects, and the power of the Gospel — not to scare or manipulate, but to educate and inform. There is power in the truth.
The third is hands that shed innocent blood. This echoes the sixth of the Ten Commandments. The word kill does not refer to hunting, capital punishment, or war, but rather the taking of innocent life as in murder. It is the premeditated ending of a person's life that is undeserved and innocent. PCCs are committed to the sanctity of all human life at every stage. Every child is precious and valuable. Protecting the unborn is why we exist. For this principle, we will not waver or shrink back but, with gentleness and compassion, we encourage our clients to choose life.
The fourth in the list is a heart that devises wicked schemes. The Lord sees our motives as well as our actions. The Bible tells us repeatedly that the Lord examines our heart. It is from the heart that the mouth speaks, and it is in the heart that we are weighed. Therefore, the Lord encourages us to guard our heart and not permit deceit to entice us. In the end, there is only regret and destruction. In our world filled with schemes, selfishness, and sin, we need to focus on sincere methods, self-sacrifice, and righteousness.
The fifth is feet that rush into evil. Knowing right from wrong, the decision is made to reject what is right and rush down the wrong path. Consequences are ignored and self-gratification is the goal. The Lord hates this action because it only leads to disaster and pain. Because the Lord loves us, He does not want us to have to suffer from the mindset that never ends well. At PCCs, we highlight the importance of long-term thinking rather than short-term escape. So many people seem to go from crisis to crisis because they look for the easy way out of problems rather than working through them. Through programs that teach and train decision-making and life skills, we seek to change people's lives. Helping people see the various perspectives and facets of decisions and their consequences, a new world is discovered. Quick decisions are usually short sighted and bring about more problems.
The sixth is a false witness who pours out lies. Trust, integrity, and honesty build relationships and strengthen unity between people. Slander, deception, and unfaithfulness are destructive. The message is clear — avoid falsehood and cling to the truth. Pregnancy center ministry is designed to build a relationship with and make a difference in one client at a time. Through unconditional love and sincere compassion, the client feels accepted, loved, and valued. As a faithful witness before every client, trust is earned and seeds of truth are planted that spring up in new life. The words that are spoken at centers bring life, healing, and hope.
The seventh and last in Solomon's list is a man who stirs up dissension among brothers. One of the quickest ways to bring about dissension is through gossip and words of unrestrained anger. Being hot-tempered and careless in our speech, the Bible says, is foolish. The tongue carries both life and death. How we speak will either build others up or tear them down. The Lord cares about what we say. One of the foundational principles of every center is confidentiality. We are committed to keeping confidences and protecting the trust given by each client. Names are not shared and identities are safe guarded. Our integrity with every client is paramount. In addition, the conversations between staff, volunteers, and Board must be kept pure at all times. Satan's main strategy of attack within ministries is to divide and conquer. Therefore, intentional steps must be taken by everyone to preserve the purity of speech and unity within the counseling room, office, and boardroom.
As we look at the above list, the abortion industry can be seen as well. They try to convince women that they are the only voice to be listened to and respected. Truth is kept from women as they seek to turn ultrasound screens away so that the reality of life in the womb is not revealed. The lives of innocent children are lost. Schemes are made to have taxpayers fund abortions and to lure young girls to a lifestyle of promiscuity. They tell women to hurry in making abortion decisions so no one will know. Truth is disguised by using terms like safe sex, product of conception, or that simply a mass of cells is expelled. Finally, they try to smear pregnancy centers as false clinics and seek to convince Americans that we are a danger to society and we are taking rights away from women.
Within the Book of Proverbs, we find wisdom, instruction, warnings, and admonitions. From the above list, we learn what God wants us to avoid, and each is for our own good as well as the good of ministry. Let's be wise and pursue humility, honesty, and integrity. Those are the things the Lord loves.
Pastor Mark Hiehle is a pastor in Chickasha, Oklahoma. He served in pregnancy center ministry for over 15 years as an executive director. He regularly speaks, writes, and seeks to help pregnancy centers grow and thrive. Visit his website at www.highcalling.com.