Hear the word of the LORD, you Israelites, because the LORD has a charge to bring against you who live in the land: “There is no faithfulness, no love, no acknowledgment of God in the land. (Hosea 4:1 NIV)
In the first 3 chapters of Hosea God has given us a vivid picture of what is happening in Israel. He has illustrated what is happening between Him and Israel through the lives of Hosea and Gomer. Nothing is as it was intended to be. It is hard to imagine what it would be like to live in a community totally devoid of faithfulness, love, and acknowledgement of God.
Faithfulness is the willingness to make a commitment and keep it. Without faithfulness covenants and contracts are meaningless. Faithfulness is the foundation of a healthy community. We need to know that people will say what they are going to do and then know that they will do it. One symptom of the faithlessness of the Israelites was that they chased after idols and in the process constantly violated their marriage vows. Everything and everyone suffered as a result.
My first thought is that we need to find a way to make faithfulness attractive to the community around us. Then I realize that for those seeking pleasure rather than peace and commitment the perceived limitations of faithfulness will never be attractive.
Love defines the actions that flow out of faithfulness. They are actions intended to do what is best for the others in our lives. These actions flow from an other-centered rather than a self-centered focus. To be other-centered requires a confidence that someone else is watching out for me.
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. (Philippians 2:3-4 ESV)
It isn’t that we pay no attention to our own needs, but that we intentionally place our needs below the needs of others. This is what love does.
To love requires that I know what it is like to be loved. The final charge against Israel was that there was no acknowledgement of God in the land. The people did not know God. They thought they knew about God and what they knew they decided to reject. When they rejected God, they gave up any possibility of knowing Him and experiencing His love.
Without God we do not know love and we become self-centered. Self-centered people find it almost impossible to be faithful. This was Israel, and this is increasingly us. With a knowledge of God that comes from a deep and personal relationship with Him love is the result. We see others in a unique way and we are willing to make and keep commitments. We should not expect that others will see this and immediately be attracted to it. What we do know is that God makes clear what happens to a community that does not acknowledge Him. I pray that in my own life I will become an example of a person who knows God, loves well, and remains faithful in every relationship.
For my grandchildren:
Get to know God.