The goal of any disciple is to be like the master they follow. Likewise God’s disciples seek to have a character that reflects God. To this end the disciple of Jesus Christ learns about God by studying God’s Word and practices living out His character in day-to-day life. Learning about God is helpful, but practicing His character is even more helpful. Not only because doing so blesses others, but because doing so helps mold our own character into ever greater Christ-likeness. In fact, it is so helpful to live out what we know of God that one could rightly say it should be the far greater focus of our lives. For what value is it, if we know much more about God and His Word, but the people around us never get to see His character in the slightest?
Jesus quoted Hosea 6 to the religious leaders of His day, “‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’” In Hosea 6, God addressed the nation of Israel. He considered Israel’s behavior and laments. He said, “Like Adam, they have broken the covenant— they were unfaithful to me […]. Gilead is a city of wicked men, stained with footprints of blood. As marauders lie in ambush for a man, so do bands of priests; they murder on the road to Shechem, committing shameful crimes. I have seen a horrible thing in the house of Israel. There Ephraim is given to prostitution and Israel is defiled.”
Hosea notes that Israel – and Israel’s spiritual leadership – may have said and studied all the right things, but they have not put any of it into practice. They are living just like the world around them, and it is so offensive to the Lord that He brings a charge against His own people in His court, “Hear the word of the Lord, you Israelites, because the Lord has a charge to bring against you who live in the land: “There is no faithfulness, no love, no acknowledgment of God in the land. There is only cursing, lying and murder, stealing and adultery; they break all bounds, and bloodshed follows bloodshed.” “
God’s prescription for them is not to double down on weekend religious duties. He does not want any more sacrifices to be offered, or visits to the temple to be made. It is that they repent and do as He would do, every day of their lives. “For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.” It is the outward exemplification of God’s character that must mark the people of God. He is looking for mercy. He is looking for honesty. He is looking for grace, for love, for faithfulness and long suffering. He is waiting to hear His people bless others. He is wanting His people to honor the vows they made, and rescue the weak instead of killing them.
As the prophet Micah said, “With what shall I come before the Lord and bow down before the exalted God? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
The Christ-follower’s obligation before God is to do justly (for that is what is right), to love mercy (for that is what imparts hope) and to walk humbly (for that is what brings peace), and to do it all with God. This is what Christ did, and this is what exemplifies His kingdom. “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” Amen.
How do you love others into the Kingdom? “Fervently pray for them, asking God for their salvation. Let them see your faith. Let them feel your kindness, your genuine love, and your gentleness. Buy gifts for no reason. Do chores when you are not asked to. Go the extra mile.Ray Comfort
Today, go the extra mile for the sake of another.