Hear the word of the Lord, O children of Israel,
for the Lord has a controversy with the inhabitants of the land.
There is no faithfulness or steadfast love,
and no knowledge of God in the land;
2 there is swearing, lying, murder, stealing, and committing adultery;
they break all bounds, and bloodshed follows bloodshed.
3 Therefore the land mourns,
and all who dwell in it languish. Hosea 4:1-3b
Don’t swear. Check. Don’t lie. Check. Don’t murder, steal or commit adultery. Check, check, check. Overall, I’m doing pretty good when I glance at a passage like this. On the surface following God seems simple, right? It’s about being good and staying out of trouble. I think I can handle that!
As a person who grew up in the church, I knew early on right from wrong and genuinely wanted to please the Lord by following his commands. If I just look on the surface at those commands, I can check off the list that I am good and obedient. But if I take a step deeper, one by one, my check marks need erasing. Those words have deeper making to them. For example, I would never even think of murdering someone. The word alone sounds harsh and ugly. But when I have anger, un-forgiveness and bitterness in my heart towards another…..murder. And the thought of having a relationship with a man other than my husband is simply disturbing to e. But placing people and things above my relationship with the Lord and allowing other things to become more important than Him……adultery.
The Lord wasn’t and isn’t looking for perfection. He isn’t looking for “good” people to be rule followers like white washed tombs. What is he looking for?
“For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.” Hosea 6:6
That’s deeper. That requires something of me that doesn’t allow for a simple checklist. Steadfast love and knowledge are developed and matured overtime within a relationship with Him. As we mature, those checklist items are naturally avoided because our love is ever increasing. As our knowledge of Him increases we see how BIG our God is and how small we are leading to praise and worship. We more clearly see our need for him, producing repentance and thanksgiving.
Thank you, Lord for your true and Holy word. Your instruction manual to guide us along the way and lead us back to you, not a checklist but a love letter. Help us to not think too highly of ourselves but only highly of you. Help us to see our own sin and cry out in praise to you for your mercy and grace.