“Hear this, you priests and all of Israel’s leaders! Listen all you men of the royal family! These words of judgement are for you: You are doomed! For you have led the people into a snare by worshiping the idols at Mizpah and Tabor.” Hosea 5:1 New Living Translation
(For further reading see Hosea 5:1-15)
What does Grace have to do with responsibility? In the last few years my picture of God’s Grace has been in constant flux. Every time I ponder what the Gift of Grace does for me I am left completely overwhelmed. And I am challenged by the depth of the gift of God’s Grace. That it cocoons every fibre of the human condition offer possibilities which stagger the mind, at least it staggers my mind!
As I have experienced the different dynamics of grace, I have discovered the power of grace to change lives. I have also discovered grace is more, much more than I realized. God’s grace is like a diamond made up of different facets which include God’s law, salvation, mercy, forgiveness, accountability, the fruit of the Spirit, etc. One facet of the diamond we call grace is receiving and acting upon the Ministry of Responsibility. This ministry is revealed in a willingness to serve, rather than in demanding to be served.
Over the generations this character trait is one parents have sought to ingrain in their children, one that often causes family turmoil. Employers want those they hire to show they have grasped the importance of being responsible. The Ministry of Responsibility is a foundational principal in the process that is grace!
The words responsible and responsibility are used to describe a person’s character and behavior, an attitude toward work, family, and life. Responsibility reveals a growth in maturity, seeking to improve the lives of others, and willingness to make a difference by serving the needs of others. Inherent in Grace is the understanding we are responsible for those God brings into our lives, a responsibility that seeks God’s guidance in meeting the physical and spiritual needs of others.
One that is maturing in responsibility will be a person you can trust, their honesty is well known. When they are given a job it is accomplished. They are known for their willingness to help in any given situation. They also carry a load far heavier than they realize, because of their work ethic. They often do not realize the weight of the burden they carry, at least not until the day they need someone who will be responsible with them, for them. This shared burden is why Jesus invites us to participate in His yoke. (Matthew 11:29-31) Jesus carries all the weight, and we need each other to be supportive as we make our way to Jesus and His yoke!
I wonder if there were times when Hosea wanted to stay home and let Gomer run. Did he lay awake at night trying to figure out how he could keep his wife home? Did Hosea’s mind wander at night as he asked God how much longer? Would the nightmare end soon? Was there a time coming when his life might take on some semblance of the normal? Yet day after day Hosea remained committed to God, His desire to save Israel, and God’s desire to keep Judah from Israel’s folly!
It is very interesting to note whom God holds responsible for the downfall of Israel and Judah. First in responsibility were the priests, then the leadership, and finally the men of the royal family. “These words of judgement are for you: you are doomed!”( Hosea 5:1) Often we may find ourselves wandering after what appears to be greener grass of others yards and gardens. We see the homes, cars, clothes, and hear of the perks. However, there are other considerations which go with all those perks, there are also the gopher holes and mole tunnels we aren’t even aware exist in the lives of those with greener grass!
God has pronounced those in the positions of wealth, power, and authority are held to a higher amount of responsibility and accountability! We are told in the New Testament those who are given much, from them much is required, especially when it concerns the well being of others, meeting the needs of orphans, widows, all who are in need. (See Matthew 25, read the story of the Sheep and Goats)
We all know of the Spiritual Leaders who have given the people what they wanted instead of what they needed. The spiritual leader may find himself ensnared in a subtle trap, the trap of telling people what they want to hear. In the short term it can feed the ego, lead one to think all is well. That is until it is time to bring them the words God wants them to hear. Then those same people can turn on the messenger in an instant.
Jesus faced this issue many times, constantly invoking the wrath of the temple Priests, Scribes, Pharisees, Sadducees, those who considered themselves holy and completely righteous. It is this attitude that impacted the Children of Israel, sending them spiraling into idolatry.
Idol worship is the perfect “hide” for self-righteousness, the self-worship that leads directly into a complete lack of responsibility for anything or anyone. It is built on a foundation of lust, self-worship, self-gratification. It’s an attitude that has time for only one person, self! This leads to a void in one’s life of compassion, empathy, an unwillingness to intervene for those who are in desperate need of the basics of life and a desperate need of God’s Grace.
God had designated what responsibility the Elders, the Priests, and those in the Royal Family had for those under their care. Their position in society and in their culture gave them opportunities to make a difference in the lives of those who had little or nothing.
Grace held them accountable for the responsibility they chose to ignore. Even as God sought to deliver them from the bondage of idolatry, the influence of their own words is evidence. “The arrogance of Israel testifies against her…” (Hosea 5:5a) Words can be used to build or to destroy, they can be made into “mind tapes” which can have an impact for generations.
There it is in the story of a man, an ordinary or not so ordinary man in a land long ago and far, far away. It is a story about a man told to marry a prostitute, a reality tale revealing the passion of God as He sought, and still seeks, to communicate His intimate love, His correction, and His Grace to his people. God chose Hosea and Gomer to reveal the length and depth He is willing to go to save Israel and Judah from themselves—and for Himself!
Hosea was a man after God’s own heart, a man willing to do exactly what God asked of him. His willingness to choose love for Gomer, overlooking her behavior, was a representation of God’s love for Israel. Hosea sought Gomer every time she ran just as God continually sought Israel and Judah every time they ran.
Hosea chose love for Gomer over every other emotion. He chose to trust in God’s final outcome. Hosea chose God’s provision over the embarrassment that dogged him everywhere he went, the embarrassment he felt because everyone knew where he was going and why, and as he watched Israel and Judah continue to ignore the warnings and spiral out of control. Even then, Hosea continued to choose trust in God over any other choice open to him. Hosea continued to choose Gomer over any pain, humiliation, over anything except God.
The question remains and is directed to each of us, will we respond when called to the Ministry of Responsibility? Please leave me a comment about how or whether you see a Ministry of Responsibility as connected to Christianity.
Michael Card has written an interesting song about Hosea and Gomer. This link is from YouTube: