Today’s Reading: 2 Kings 18, Hosea 11, Psalm 132-134, Philemon.
“My people are bent on turning away from me, and though they call out to the Most High, he shall not raise them up at all. . . . My heart recoils within me; my compassion grows warm and tender. I will not execute my burning anger; I will not again destroy Ephraim; for I am God and not a man, the Holy One in your midst, and I will not come in wrath.” Hosea 11:7-9
Read these verses carefully.
Now read ’em again.
The same God who knows His people are “bent” towards disobedience is the same God whose compassion is without measure. The same God who has every right to come on us in wrath like any of us would were we treated the same way is the same God who is not a man.
God does not treat us like we expect. The character of God is love, grace, mercy, and tender compassion. . . towards those who are always “bent” on turning away from Him.
Get that. Let that soak in some.
You have anyone in your life who just seems to always be against you? You have anyone in your life who is always under your skin, who seems “bent” on doing things that are the opposite from you?
Yeah – that’s me and that’s you towards God. But instead of treating us as we deserve, we get compassion.
Now – go back to that person or persons who have done or still do you wrong. Think about what they have done to you and how they have hurt you and how they deserve a good solid kick in the you know where.
How does a Christian respond to such a person(s)?
This one chapter – 25 verse – book of the Bible is a clinic on how we are to do as God does to us.
Read it. Go ahead, I’ll wait.
Paul is sending Philemon a letter through the hands of a man (Onesimus) who had apparently done him very dirty. Onesimus did something to harm Philemon, ran away, ran into Paul, ran into Jesus, became a brother in Christ, and is now going back to hopefully make things right with his former employer.
The challenge in the letter is not on Onesimus. Nope. It’s on Philemon to receive Onesimus as a brother.
You read that right. Philemon – the “innocent” party was to receive back in full measure Onesimus – the “guilty” one. Philemon was to have compassion and mercy and forgiveness and grace on the one who had been “bent” on doing him wrong.
We don’t know what Philemon did. But that’s not the point.
The point is that – as children of God – we “do unto others as we have had done unto us.” If we deeply understand what has been given us in spite of our evil “bent,” we will be at the height of arrogance to neglect the do the same towards others.
I love the truth found in Hosea. And it is indeed glorious truth.
But it’s meant to be more than produce a good, warm fuzzy in our souls. It’s meant to change us. We are, in fact, made in God’s image.
Don’t read Hosea and neglect Philemon.
Let the Gospel (the good news of God’s grace toward sinners) be evident in your relationships right now.