Israel, Mercy, and Me – Hosea 2
I struggle with habitual sin. In my little corner of the world, lots of Christians make the distinction between run of the mill sin and habitual sin–the former being somewhat unavoidable as we continually war with our sin nature. We may stumble and fall, but we get back up, pressing on and striving toward our prize in Christ. And the latter being the repetitive, avoidable, lifestyle sin of the hard-hearted, often considered proof that someone isn’t even saved because by their fruits you’ll know them.
Which is all true. Sometimes.
But it’s also true that in spite of the fact that I’ve been utterly sold out for Jesus for the past two decades, I’ve got plenty of sin on repeat. My vanity, for instance—I’m vain every day. I’m jealous of beautiful women on TV and the ones in line at the grocery store. I fixate on my flaws. I hate my wrinkles, my graying hair, and my seemingly impenetrable muffin top. My daily priorities easily shift, often making my workout more important than time with God.
I also lust for stuff. Every day. Whether paging through my Pottery Barn catalog or walking up and down the aisles of heaven on earth—I mean, Target. Sometimes I avoid buying things I want, other days I cave, making purchases I have no business making. On a good day, I white knuckle my way to fiscal discipline, remaining ungrateful for what I actually do have.
Every day I’m selfish.
Every day I’m impatient, most often with my kids.
Every day I’m easily angered.
Every day I fail to love someone the way God wants me to.
Every day I need a savior.
Which is why Hosea 2 is a healing balm to my sin-weary soul.
I will remove the names of the Baals from her lips;
no longer will their names be invoked.
In that day I will make a covenant for them
with the beasts of the field, the birds in the sky
and the creatures that move along the ground.
Bow and sword and battle
I will abolish from the land,
so that all may lie down in safety.
I will betroth you to me forever;
I will betroth you in righteousness and justice,
in love and compassion.
I will betroth you in faithfulness,
and you will acknowledge the Lord.
“In that day I will respond,”
declares the Lord—
“I will respond to the skies,
and they will respond to the earth;
and the earth will respond to the grain,
the new wine and the olive oil,
and they will respond to Jezreel.
I will plant her for myself in the land;
I will show my love to the one I called ‘Not my loved one.”’
I will say to those called ‘Not my people,” ‘You are my people’;
and they will say, ‘You are my God.’” (Hosea 2:17-23)
Too often we make the mistake of thinking Israel was uniquely unfaithful to the Lord. But the truth is, I’m Israel. I’m just like them in my wandering. In my justifying of sin. In my doubting God’s goodness. In my ungratefulness. And God meets me there and he rescues me. He changes me, the first day of salvation and every day I’m willing to surrender my wants and needs to him. If I lay down my sinful desires in exchange for righteousness—a beautiful and inequitable trade. Understatement.
God has recently dismantled my world—one idol at a time—starting with vanity. Just like he did with Israel, he has deemed me righteous, and is fulfilling his promise to make me new. To make me less like Israel (i.e. less like me) and more like Jesus. And he’s displaying his mercy, patience, sovereignty, and extraordinary grace throughout the messy process.
He’s my rescuer.
(Order Amanda’s book, Confessions of a Raging Perfectionst here.)
Amanda Jenkins spent ten years in L.A. alongside her film-making husband surrounded by plastic surgery and high-falutin lifestyles, which is where she became convicted and inspired to write about her struggle with chasing perfection in all its forms. Amanda attended Northwestern Bible College and graduated with degrees in Communication and Biblical Studies. She has taught Bible studies for women of all ages for the past 14 years, and is passionate about communicating truth in a culturally relevant and funny way. Today, she lives just outside of Chicago with her husband, Dallas, and their four young children, including their recently adopted 6-yr-old son. She is also the daughter-in-law of Jerry B. Jenkins, author of the best-selling Left Behind Series, and drops his name in the publishing world as often as possible. Confessions of a Raging Perfectionist was released in 2013 by Tyndale House Publishers. Amanda blogs at RagingPerfectionist.com.