This week we will meditate together on Hosea 11:8, “My heart recoils within me; my compassion grows warm and tender.”
This chapter begins on a more sobering note as Ortlund invites us to consider the nature of our sin:
The reason we feel as if divine wrath can easily be overstated is that we do not feel the true weight of sin.
Martyn Lloyd-Jones, reflecting on this, said:
You will never make yourself feel that you are a sinner, because there is a mechanism in you as a result of sin that will always be defending you against every accusation. We are all on very good terms with ourselves, and we can always put up a good case for ourselves. Even if we try to make ourselves feel that we are sinners, we will never do it. There is only one way to know that we are sinners, and that is to have some dim, glimmering conception of God.
In other words, we don’t feel the weight of our sin because of: our sin.
When we do reckon with our sin, and God’s judgment upon it, we are preparing our hearts to understand the grace of God.
Which raises the question: what is the grace of God?
Ortlund peels away one important misconception, writing:
But the grace of God comes to us no more and no less than Jesus Christ comes to us. In the biblical gospel we are not given a thing; we are given a person.
So there is no way to experience grace apart from Jesus.
Therefore, we see a great divide based on whether or not we belong to him:
For those who do not belong to him, sins evoke holy wrath. How could a morally serious God respond otherwise?
But to those who do belong to him, sins evoke holy longing, holy love, holy tenderness.
For us, this is hard to hear and even harder to believe… or to have it settle into our hearts and lives.
As Ortlund summarizes:
The key observation is this: it is in consideration of his people’s sins that God’s heart goes out to them in compassion.
God looks at his people in all their moral filth. They have proven their waywardness time and again—not occasionally, but they “are bent on turning away from me” (v. 7). This is settled recalcitrance. But here’s the thing: they’re his.
It does take work - hard work - to understand God’s heart for us.
It is intellectually and willfully challenging to understand that when God sees us in the midst of sin so great we cannot comprehend it, he is drawn towards us in holy tenderness.
But what other hope do we have? Our sins cannot be resolved by a weekly visit to church, though of course that is an important and joyful routine for followers of Jesus. A daily quiet time will not be enough, though again, dedicating time each day to commune with God in his word is a blessing.
Nothing less than God’s constant commitment to us, and to our holiness, even in the midst of our sin and rebellion, will be enough. Our journey to maturity in Christ is dependent upon his constant compassion.
- What strategies do you employ to avoid the seriousness of your sin?
- How does God’s permanent commitment to you help you trust him?