by Dave Gudgel
IT’S CHRISTMAS TIME! And the air is filled with Christmas music. Are you familiar with this song? “Last Christmas I gave you my heart, but the very next day you gave it away. This year to save me from tears, I’ll give it to someone special.” The message of the song is pretty easy to understand. The singer is heartbroken, thanks to a broken relationship, yet still hoping to find love again with someone else.
A university newspaper editor described similar feelings after his girlfriend dumped him. As he was struggling through the pain of his broken heart, he realized that his college didn’t have even one academic course on the all-important subject of romantic relationships. Yet finding the right person, along with finding the right career, are the two things that college students want most.
But college students aren’t the only ones looking for love. In many ways it’s even harder once you’re out of college. Over the years I’ve counseled many single adults of all ages who are trying to find that special person to share their life with. And they’re often struggling to understand why God hasn’t given them someone yet. One 40-something guy who had gotten divorced after an eleven-year marriage came into my office asking for my best Cliff Notes advice on love. He wanted to find love again and then make sure it lasted this time around!
Twice a year I fly to Arizona to speak at a class for engaged couples. They’re in the class because they believe they’ve found love and they want to make sure it lasts. They don’t want to be singing that song next Christmas while they’re looking for someone new! I advise them to take to heart the words found in Hosea 10:12 that say,
“Sow for yourselves righteousness, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the LORD, until He comes and showers righteousness on you.”
Unfailing love. Isn’t that what we’re all looking for? Someone to love us unconditionally. To never leave us. To always be there for us no matter what comes along. We want that in our relationship with God. And we can have it! But we also want it in our relationship with others – a spouse, our family, our friends. Bring it on! That’s what we’re all looking for, Hosea! How do we get it?!
Hosea’s Cliff Notes on how to make that happen – “Sow righteousness.”
In very practical terms, what does it mean to intentionally sow righteousness? It may sound simple, but for human beings living in a fallen world it’s not as easy as it sounds. It means:
- Giving up your own plans to follow God’s plan.
- Making choices based on what God says is right instead of what you personally want to do.
- Saying no to things that God clearly says are wrong even when you really want to do them!
- Living a life of love every day by putting others’ needs and wants above your own.
Living life sowing righteousness is not an easy thing to do. There’s something inside each of us that makes it much easier to put ourselves first. To default to doing what seems right in our own eyes rather than what God says is right, and then presuming that “God will understand.” (By the way, if you ever find yourself thinking that, stop and think twice about what you’re about to do because it’s probably not a good idea!) It’s been like that since the days of Adam and Eve. Remember their huge FAIL? They inserted their will in place of God’s will because taking just one itty bitty bite of forbidden fruit seemed like a good idea at the time.
“There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.” (Proverbs 14:12)
Call it the law of the harvest. You reap what you sow. When a farmer plants corn he doesn’t need to wonder what vegetable he’ll find growing in his fields once summer comes around. He’s going to find corn! Isn’t that Hosea’s point? And the Bible makes it clear that on the other side of disobedience is death. On the other side of obedience is life – and in this case, lasting love.
Unfailing love is the fruit of sowing righteousness. Of knowing and doing what’s right… no matter what. Can you honestly say doing what’s right in God’s eyes is the commitment of your heart? To do life God’s way? Even when you really really really want to do it your own way? Unfortunately not many people in this world choose to live that way. And if you do, your life and how you live it will look a lot different than the rest of the world. But the benefit far outweighs the cost. The fruit of unfailing love is so worth it.
If your heart is hard toward doing what God wants, don’t expect to find unfailing love in your human relationships in this world. But if you want God’s best as far as love is concerned, trust Hosea’s words. Sow righteousness. God would love nothing more than to fill your life with unfailing love both in this world and beyond. And He has promised to do that for those who willingly choose to sow righteousness.