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Message of Faith: Tearing Down the Wall of Shame

Managing Editor

Published: Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Updated: Tuesday, February 19, 2013 19:02

 

Perhaps the most heinous offense one can commit while in a relationship is to cheat. It wreaks havoc on marriages, harbors a lack of trust and obliterates camaraderie.

If the pain that results from infidelity is so intense, one wouldn’t think that anyone would purposefully marry someone they knew would cheat on them. However, that’s exactly what the prophet Hosea does in the Old Testament book of Hosea.

God tells Hosea to marry a prostitute named Gomer. It seems as if this would set Hosea up for a failed marriage, but Hosea does what he is told and is wed to Gomer.

It’s not long before Gomer, who has not turned from her ways, cheats on Hosea. When this lover deserts her, she sells herself into slavery. Although Gomer has left Hosea, his love for her is unchanged.

Hosea 3:1 says, “The Lord said to me, ‘Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another man and is an adulteress. Love her as the Lord loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods and love the sacred raisin cakes,’” (NIV).

Regardless of how difficult it might be, Hosea takes Gomer back to be his wife and even buys her out of slavery.

Hosea says to Gomer, “You are to live with me many days; you must not be a prostitute or be intimate with any man, and I will behave the same way toward you,” (Hosea 3:3, NIV).

As simple as that, Gomer is restored to her position of wife and Hosea continues to be faithful. No conditions, no hoops to jump through, no trial period—Hosea has given her a second shot, free of charge.

The reason for such relentless love is made obvious when one returns to Hosea 3:1. God’s command to Hosea is to “love her as the Lord loves the Israelites.”

At this time, the Israelites were not very easy to love. They were living in direct opposition to God’s wishes—sinning constantly and “cheating” on him by worshiping other gods.

Still, God takes the Israelites back. His unconditional love is not withheld from them.

The analogy between Hosea’s story and God’s is taken a step further when applied to a New Testament context. Hosea loved Gomer as Christ loves His church. When we stray, Christ has already paid the price to buy us back out of slavery by sacrificing His life and defeating sin once and for all.

So what about Gomer in all of this? Hosea’s account doesn’t provide a lot of information about what affect Hosea’s undying devotion had in her life. She may have been extremely grateful, scared, cold, or she may have shied away from Hosea in shame.

My personal tendency, and, I think, the tendency of many around me, is the latter. I allow my shame to keep me from accepting God’s forgiveness because I feel that I don’t deserve His love when I deliberately do what he has instructed me not to do.

If these sins become habitual, it makes everything more difficult. It may take me years in order to even reach a place where I feel that I can talk to God.

The cool part, though, is that I’m notworthy to speak to God. Just as Gomer was not worthy to receive Hosea’s love and forgiveness, I’m not worthy to receive God’s, but I get it anyways.

I must learn to forgive myself and others in the unconditional fashion that God forgives me because holding onto shame and bitterness puts a wall between God and me. When we allow the wall to go up, communication disappears and a healthy relationship with God based on His grace goes with it. At the end of the day, we are nothing without God, so why let sins that are already paid for keep us from Him?

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