“Their deeds do not permit them to return to their God. A spirit of prostitution is in their heart; they do not acknowledge the LORD. (Hosea 5:4 NIV)
The Israelites have chosen to pursue idols and the pleasure they find in idol worship. They don’t even acknowledge that God exists. They are in control of their lives and enjoying themselves until the circumstances of their lives begin to change. They have quite literally sold themselves to the devil. Most of us would never consider a life of prostitution, but the essence of prostitution is selling something I think belongs to me to get something I want. I wonder what we’d find if we really examined our lives to look for situations where we gave up something valuable to us to get something we think is of greater value. How often do we surrender our integrity to get our way? How often do we compromise our moral standards to be accepted by the community around us? How often do we hide our relationship with God to avoid persecution? How many of these actions become habits?
God’s warning is clear. It is possible to pursue a lifestyle that leads away from Him to the point where it becomes very difficult, if not impossible, to turn and return to Him. We know how difficult it is for us to change. It is especially difficult to break habits. For the past 6 weeks I’ve had to put my clothes on a different way due to my broken shoulder. My habit is to put my shirt on my right arm first and then my left. I had to reverse this process to avoid pain in the shoulder. Now that the pain is gone I’ve quickly returned to my old habit. The way I put my shirt on is not going to impact my relationship with God, but how many other habits do I have that are moving me further from God?
We need to examine our habits to ensure that they are moving us toward God rather than away from Him. We also need to pray that those we love that are moving away from God would acknowledge Him before it is to late. We need to pray that the Holy Spirit would help them recognize the bad bargain that they are making.
For my grandchildren:
Your habits matter. Build plenty of good ones.