For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings. Hosea 6:6 ESV
The greatest aspect of our spiritual formation is our relationship with God. That’s why I take time every Sunday to evaluate my relationship with Him and determine what changes I should focus on in the week ahead. In a few hours I’ll be preaching on Hosea 6. In that passage, God bemoans the fact that Israel’s love for Him faded like the dew. More than religious ritual, He desired steadfast love and a deep and abiding knowledge of Him. Considering raises several questions about my life and relationship with God.
First, would I describe my relationship with God as one based on steadfast love or on sacrifice? Do I see myself as continually bringing sacrifices before Him to atone for my sins, or does His steadfast love for me motivate a deeper steadfast love for Him on my part? Yes, the sacrifice of Jesus covers and forgives all my sins (absolves them actually), but hopefully, my sins decrease with time as I learn to love God more. Is that the case? Secondly, do I know God more than I did in the past, or am I stuck with the knowledge I have had in the past. Israel knew God appreciated burnt offerings, so that was how they generally approached Him (especially when they had sinned). While this was good, the prophets continually explained that while God appreciated burnt offerings, He would have preferred justice, care for the poor, widows and orphans, and a broken and contrite heart before Him. Do these attitudes explain my relationship to God, or is it more based on offerings such as church attendance and financial giving?
These questions probe my soul. They allow me to accurately take stock of my spiritual condition and perhaps respond in a more Christ-like way. By knowing God and responding to His steadfast love, I grow in my spiritual formation.