Hosea 6:6 — For I delight in loyalty rather than sacrifice, And in the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.

Matthew 12:7 — But if you had known what this means, ‘I DESIRE COMPASSION, AND NOT A SACRIFICE,’ you would not have condemned the innocent.

The first quote is from Hosea. The second is from Jesus referring to Hosea 6:6 in a discussion with some Pharisees about what they perceived to be a Sabbath violation.

I have been preaching, teaching, and offering guidance for over 50 years in several states and on more than one continent. I have seen righteousness from godly people who astounded many. I have also seen acts of ungodliness committed by people who were supposed to walk in God’s ways. Concern for God’s influence often was behind righteous acts. Self-justification and anxiety were often behind the other acts.

I have seen the generosity of the poor, and the sacrificial but quiet deeds of the well-to-do. I have witnessed astounding unselfishness. I have seen a congregation provide a car to a missionary with this rationale: “If this congregation can borrow for a building, it can borrow for a car.” I have witnessed acts of kindness and thoughtfulness that defied imagination. I have seen outpourings of concern to meet “unmeetable” needs.

I also have seen a couple move into a community and place membership in a congregation. Later, they declared their purpose for coming was to infiltrate the congregation and divide it. I have seen men in a business meeting double up their fists to exchange blows because they disagreed. I have seen a set of tires deliberately ruined by roofing nails because one Christian dared defy another Christian’s views. I have seen division intentionally created by gossip, rumors, and anonymous letters.

In the things I witnessed I have learned much. One is this: Most of us American Christians are slow learners. We can be adamant in our views to the point that we close our ears and listen only to self. “Agree with me and you are wonderful; disagree with me and you are terrible.”

Jesus’ use of Hosea 6:6 as a critical insight into God fascinates me. “Jesus, why quote Hosea? Why not some ‘profound’ book like Genesis, or Exodus, or Deuteronomy, or the Psalms, or Isaiah, or Daniel? Why, of all things, quote Hosea in something so important?”

Why? Simple! Hosea provided those Pharisees an insight into God that they desperately needed! Hosea said what those Pharisees needed to hear!

We have to learn from the mistakes of others to see ourselves! Why? We never make mistakes! There is always a “good reason” for doing what we do, or perhaps a “good justification.” So, show me to myself by your flaws—then maybe I will learn. Too often, my best view of me comes when you stumble. Hopefully, that is when I learn the importance of compassion. How can an uncompassionate human stand before a compassionate God? None of us dare find out by a judgment experience!

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Article, 23 October 2008

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