Monday, August 6, 2012

Control Freaks

“But you must return to your God; maintain love and justice, and wait for your God always.” – Hosea 12:6

How often do we manipulate the people or circumstances around us to keep control on our lives? It is human nature to desire security. We spend most of our day doing things to maintain the status quo of our existence or further advance our ambitions. We run around in effect saying, “What shall we eat, what shall we drink, what shall we wear?” Instead of trusting God for His provision, we act as if we are masters of our fate. It’s up to us.

So the temptation is to cheat. We cut corners on our family relationships so we can put in more hours at the job so we can get that promotion. We make ourselves too busy to be about God’s business because we are too busy on facebook. Why? Because our self-worth is directly correlated to what our “friends” think about us. We deal only in cash so we don’t have to pay taxes to the government so we can buy more toys for ourselves – all the while ignoring the cry of the poor. We lie about something we’ve done in order to save face rather than transparently and humbly admit the truth.
In this passage, God is reprimanding Israel for being just like their forefather, Jacob. Jacob was a cheat. A manipulator. Jacob was always trying to work an angle in order to get what he wanted. It’s interesting that God had to take Jacob through a school of hard knocks in order to get Him to realize that He should have looked to God for His welfare rather than His own conniving efforts.
In Hosea’s day, the people had abandoned their faith in God and instead were cutting deals with Egypt and Assyria to protect them from their enemies. The same national manipulative spirit worked itself out in their private lives as well. It was common practice for the rich in Israel to cheat the poor at the market place. By an elaborate system of deceit, buyers always walked away the losers in any transaction. Using their wealth, they were able to buy off any judge if they happened to be accused by one they had cheated.
God gives three solutions to this outrage: return, maintain, and wait.
First, they were to return to God. Abandon their idols and their ways of trickery. Give up their “control freak” attitudes and recognize that only God holds power over their destiny. Only God has the right to define right and wrong in their life.
Second, they were to maintain love and justice. This pointed them back to the Mosaic law in which they were to deal fairly with their neighbors and treat the poor with kindness – even to the point of loaning money at no interest. Throughout the entire Bible, God displays a heart for those who are downtrodden and needy. One of the marks of genuine Christianity is mercy toward those who are unable to help themselves. Jesus told us to be generous to the poor. He modeled for us a life of servanthood - where we willing give up our comfort to bring comfort to others, both spiritually and physically.
Third, Israel was to wait on God. This is the natural outflow of the first command. Waiting equals trusting. Waiting equals resting and pausing. Waiting on God means placing our dilemma at His feet and asking Him to take care of it. It means seeing what He wants to do about it before we try to solve it ourselves. This means taking our eyes off us and lifting them in faith to the one who is all-wise. Often God will give us something to do, but it will be His ways with His motives and His attitude. Our action then doesn’t become manipulation but a trusting obedience to God.
So, in application, let’s stop assuming control of our life and yield that to God. Recognize Him as the sovereign king who holds our lives in His hands. Let’s repent of doing things our way and do things God’s way. Let’s take time to sit at His feet listen to His voice. Allow our God to fight for us. Give Him room to be God.

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