“She said, I’ll run after other lovers and sell myself to them for food and drink, for clothing wool and linen, and for olive oil. She doesn’t realize that it was I who gave her everything she has—the grain, the wine, the olive oil.” Hosea 2:5b, 8 New Living Translation
For me one of the difficult decisions to make was what to do with myself for the rest of my life. You know, the job that would put food on the table, roof over the family’s heads, utilities such as electricity, gas, water, all those little necessities we have come to rely on to exist in our everyday lives. Modern bathrooms are at the top of my much needed necessities list! I am quite sure if I spent any amount of time pondering the question of need, I could list several absolute must haves. However, I am also quite sure I would find there are several must haves which would fall into not needed!
In the verses above we have God once more chastising Israel for their idolatry, calling their actions adultery. Then God drops the bomb. What Israel thought was provided by their false gods, their “other lovers,” was in fact provided by God.
And as they say, there’s the rub! It’s such a subtle trap, well camouflaged to draw in the most astute follower of God. We can find ourselves being drawn into lies, lies telling us all we have is ours. We worked for it, we deserve some time out enjoying the fruits of our labors! It’s our money, we worked hard to have means to provide what is needed for the family and our “mad money”.
Except, everything provided for us to live in this community, society, culture, hemisphere, and world is given to us by God! Every dollar, perk, bonus, gift, and every last penny which has crossed into your possession belongs to God. It is easy to confuse what we believe is ours because we earned it with what God has given to us. Like Israel, we run from the One who has provided all we have, all we need. An idea is planted convincing humanity there is no God, no one to whom we owe anything, so all we have is ours.
Since it’s ours, there is no reason anyone else needs any part of what I worked hard to earn. This is a common enough phrase these days, “I had to work for my income, let those lazy people getting the government hand-outs do the same.” I had said those words and others like them, until I had the opportunity to be one of those standing in line for food handouts. We never took funds or benefits from any state or Federal agency, however that doesn’t mean it’s wrong to seek help.
According to Jesus, what is wrong is to refuse to meet the needs of those who are poor. Because God has given us the means to meet our needs, He expects we will choose to meet the needs of others. Don’t worry, the Holy Spirit will lead you to exactly the very ones who need your help.
God speaking through Hosea is pleading with Israel to understand Who has given to them the prosperity they enjoy. He wants the same thing for all of us as well. Our habit of assuming we provide for our own needs means we tend to live insulated lives, hiding from ourselves the truth about those blessings we receive every moment from God! And it also can hide from us those who need the help we can offer and give.
God portrays Israel as a prostitute, as the chronically unfaithful wife. Then through His extreme love He revealed (and reveals to us) He was the one providing the wealth Gomer believed she was earning on her own, as He does for every child of God, every believer in Jesus Christ, everyone who has chosen to become/be a disciple of Jesus.
As I have tried to show, our actions, behaviors, attitudes, beliefs, etc., are the result of what we chose to believe. Do we chose to respond to God allowing Him to become the authority in our lives? If so, this also allows Him to begin the Grace driven transformation. The other choice before us is to believe the lie of the dragon. Known by his other name, Satan, he longs to sift us just as he longed to sift Peter.
We have been allowed by God to exercise the gift of freewill and free choice. We are blessed with the gift of Grace. God provides the process of change in the same way He provides everything else. Just as God declared in the message to Israel through Hosea, God was the provider of all Gomer thought she was earning through her cheating adultery!
That is another paradigm shift! I’m not sure how many more of these I can take, but the truth is, as always, I’ll take as many as God knows I need!
“You can be sure that God will take care of everything you need, his generosity exceeding even yours in the glory that pours from Jesus.” Philippians 4:19 The Message
“And with all his abundant wealth through Christ Jesus, my God will supply all your needs.” Philippians 4:19 Good News Translation
How have you seen God take care of your needs? Do you believe you are personally responsible to help others in need?