Love is…persistent

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God's perpetual pursuit of us shows the enduring nature of love, which we are to display towards one another.

In order to love on an interpersonal level, we have to understand how to love by exhibiting our Creator. God is love (1 John 4:8), and as his worshipers, we should seek to reflect him in every possible way.

Fittingly, Ephesians 5:1-2 reads, “Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children 2 and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”

The God kind of love (I mean, what other kind is there) is persistent. This love is characterized throughout the Scriptures by the use of the Hebrew word “hesed,” meaning “steadfast” or “unfailing” love.

David describes this love in Psalm 23:6, stating, “Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life” (NLT).

From the beginning of time, God has pursued humankind by entering into covenant—a solemn agreement to engage in or refrain from a specified action. From Adam all the way to us, God has used this method. Among the notable Biblical covenants is the covenant God makes with Israel, mediated by Moses, where God gives the law on Mount Sinai.

Presently, God has pursued us with a covenant as well. This is God’s last covenant, a final offer if you will.

Hebrews 9:15 reads, “For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.”

In God’s New Testament, or new covenant, the conditions are clearly outlined: “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31). This agreement requires a profession of faith (and subsequent obedience) from the believer, in which God responds with justification, salvation and eternal life.

God’s use of covenant is not merely some legally binding contract, but a sincere effort to engage his creation on a relational level and enter into loving fellowship. In fact, the covenant relationship that Christians have with Jesus is that of husband and wife.

Ephesians 5:23 states, “For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.”

The Old Testament places the relationship between God and Israel in view of marriage as well. Israel, however, was totally unfaithful to God. Her infidelity grieved God to the point of rejection, and he uses the prophet Hosea to announce his utter disappointment.

The book of Hosea is one that highlights the promiscuity of the nation of Israel. God allows his mouthpiece to partake in his distress, commanding Hosea to take an adulterous wife (Gomer) at the beginning of his ministry, so that the preacher would not be disconnected from his message.

Hosea’s wayward wife and unfaithful children (examined in the first three chapters) would, in turn, serve as a metaphor for God’s turbulent relationship with his bride.

Chapter two of Hosea really is the “meat” of this account, as God partakes in a long and emotional discourse regarding his companion. The Lord begins with rather harsh words, in which one can sense his feelings of rejection and scorn.

In Hosea 2:2a, God says, “Rebuke your mother, rebuke her, for she is not my wife, and I am not her husband.”

Israel, through her adultery, had broken her marital bonds with Jehovah, and he was sure to let her know about it. God, however, only intends to chasten Israel and not divorce her. In fact, in spite of her habitual transgression, God’s sole desire is to love her and be in unbroken fellowship.

God will not allow the sins of Israel to go unpunished, though, and he articulates this in Hosea 2:13. He says, “‘I will punish her for all those times when she burned incense to her images of Baal, when she put on her earrings and jewels and went out to look for her lovers but forgot all about me,’ says the LORD” (NLT).

Anger turns into compassion, however, in only a matter of a verse!

Hosea 2:14-16 continues:

But then I will win her back once again, I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her there. 15 I will return her vineyards to her and transform the Valley of Trouble into a gateway of hope. She will give herself to me there, as she did long ago when she was young, when I freed her from her captivity in Egypt. 16 When that day comes,” says the LORD, “you will call me ‘my husband’ instead of ‘my master.’” (NLT)

God’s desire is not to remain angry, but to demonstrate his great love. Psalm 30:5a says, “For his anger lasts only for a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime.” Forgiveness is extended to anyone who will genuinely ask for it, as “the Lord is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion” (Numbers 14:18a).

What, then, hinders one from receiving God’s forgiveness? Though God promised that his relationship with Israel would eventually be restored, that certainly would be in the distant future. Why did it take so long for this restitution to occur?

David’s words in Psalm 66 are actually a fitting commentary on this matter. He writes:

Come and listen, all you who fear God, and I will tell you what he did for me. 17 For I cried out to him for help, praising him as I spoke. 18 If I had not confessed the sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened. 19 But God did listen! He paid attention to my prayer. 20 Praise God, who did not ignore my prayer or withdraw his unfailing love from me. (NLT)

David says that though he cried out to God, praised him and prayed to him, it would have been ignored had not he confessed his sin. From this we can conclude that failure to admit guilt is paralyzing to reconciliation. When someone is wrong—knowingly wrong—and refuses to confess their transgression, we tend to identify that as pride.

Pride will get you nowhere in a hurry with God. First Peter 5:5 clearly states, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

Israel was full of pride. For this reason, God, himself, would humble her for the sake of their relationship.

Hosea 5:14-15 reads, “For I will be like a lion to Ephraim, like a great lion to Judah. I will tear them to pieces and go away; I will carry them off, with no one to rescue them. 15 Then I will go back to my place until they admit their guilt. And they will seek my face; in their misery they will earnestly seek me.”

Israel’s repentance would allow the bride and groom to, in a sense, renew their vows. God recites to Israel in Hosea 2:19-20:

I will make you my wife forever, showing you righteousness and justice, unfailing love and compassion. 20 I will be faithful to you and make you mine, and you will finally know me as the LORD. (NLT)

The word “finally” indicates that God was in pursuit and that he has captured the object of his chase, the heart of his bride. God, after all that chasing, struggling and striving has finally pinned his lover into submission of his love.

Sound familiar?

God stepped through 42 generations to be born of a virgin and reconcile us to himself by dying on the cross; we did not choose him, but he chose us (John 15:16).

As a sort of last note, God tells Hosea to emulate his love by reconciling with his wife, who committed adultery:

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

Much like Hosea, the Lord implores us to display his kind of love in our personal relationships. Persistent love requires forgiveness—not ignoring transgression for the sake of relationship, but dealing healthily with instances of offense when they arise.

Luke 17:3-4 states, “If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. 4 If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, ‘I repent,’ forgive him.”

Love is tested by transgression. This is why humility and compassion are needed in any healthy relationship. Jesus Christ is the picture of both of these, humbling himself to the cross (Philippians 2:8) and offering forgiveness for the guilty (Acts 13:38).

Love is persistent, and those who walk in it will do what is necessary for the health of their relationships.

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~ by christianballenger on March 15, 2012.

5 Responses to “Love is…persistent”

  1. OMG!!!!! I’m in tears……..great job.

  2. Hi…my research for writing a post called “my God love story” through
    P31 online bible studies found me clicking in a link that got me to your blog spot. I was considering this love story and The book of Hosea came to mind as I wanted to draft my story around this book…
    You have done an excellent job…as I too think about persistent love…you mirror my thoughts. How God has chased after me , never giving up no matter how far off the path I’ve travelled.

    Blessings…and there is a good possibility that I will be linking this post somewhere in my post. Let me know of this okay?

    Your sister in the Lord!
    Sabrina

  3. […] https://quenchnot.wordpress.com/2012/03/15/love-is-persistent/ […]

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