Summary: God does not favor divided heart when it comes to our love for him. Hosea describes in three powerful images of the spiritual state we may be in.
Last Sunday we studied about the ways to transform our heart so that our thoughts are controlled accordingly. But, unfortunately, we all struggle with symptoms of divided heart. The Bible has some harsh words about that; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does (James 1:8).
In the text chosen for today, Hosea, under the direction of the Holy Spirit, describes the spiritual state of Israel in three distinct images. The first image is “a flat cake not turned over.” This symbolizes those with either divided heart or lukewarm love for the Lord. The second image is that of “an old man with sprinkled gray hair,” who doesn’t know that foreigners have been sapping his strength. We see this type of Christians who have been attending churches for many years and believe they are holy and righteous. But the truth of the matter is that they don’t even know that they are manipulated by the devil. And the last image is “a dove which is easily deceived” and senselessly flying to Egypt and Assyria. This is the kind of people who will go wherever they think will offer benefits or assistance.
These are troublesome images and inevitably produce terrible results: It will hurt God’s heart. You will bear no fruit in your spiritual life. Furthermore, you will not be exemplary to the unbelieving world. This is why David prayed: Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name (Psalm 86:11). How do you then follow the Lord with single-minded heart and focus?
First, choose the one- way path.
When you fly in an airplane it advances one way – you never see one going in reverse! The road to Calvary that Jesus took was one way – there was no turning around. The famous tenor, Luciano Pavarotti was trying to decide which career to follow after he graduated from teacher’s college. His talent and passion was in singing. When he asked his father, who was a baker, for counsel, this is what he was told: If you try to sit on two chairs you are bound to fall to the ground. Choose one chair. This obviously was a wise counsel for his son, who 14 years later became one of the most famous tenors in the world. By contrast, Demas, according to Paul in II Timothy, loved the world that he left the great saint to go back to Thessalonica – he did not follow the one-way path.
Second, choose the narrow path.
Jesus said: Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it (Matthew 7:13). It is a difficult and lonely road to follow. Dr. David Livingston, the father of Africa Mission, received a letter from England promising to send some missionaries as soon as the road was built leading into the jungle where he was working. Livingston wrote back: If the workers’ decision depends on whether or not the road is available, please do not send them - they will not survive here.
Third, choose the holy path.
A Roman Emperor was trying to find the best way to rid of all Christians. One of his advisers said the best way is to kill them all. Another said to torture them until they would renounce their faith. But still another stepped forward and said that they wouldn’t work because Christians thrive under pressure and persecution. The best way, he said, was to create an environment of freedom and comfort, which then will entice them to sin. And when Christians sin, they lose their power.
Are you leading a holy life exemplifying Jesus Christ to the people you come in contact with? Jesus asked Peter: “Do you love more than these?” “These” can be anything or anyone other than Jesus. If you love Jesus more, you would want to lead a holy life of worship, word, and witnessing. Is that what you are doing now?