When you think about relationships specifically and life in general, the odds are definitely against us. We talked last week about marriage and the statistics are very discouraging at best. For example . . . When asked only three out of ten men in America make marriage a priority . . . Around 50% of all new marriages will end in divorce within about twenty years or so . . . 40% of people when surveyed said they didn’t believe marriage was important and didn’t believe that marriage even works anymore.
There has been such a poor example set by marriage even within the Church that people are skeptical of marriage and many won’t even consider marriage because they have already given up on it. Many people still want that relationship and that connection so people make the wrong choice to co-habitat and live together without being married. And statistics show that living together has a very negative effect on relationships as well. What they are saying is, “I want that connection and I desire that relationship but I don’t want the commitment of marriage.” The reason could be . . . I have never seen a healthy marriage modeled for me . . . I am afraid of the commitment.
But probably the most common reason is . . . I am scarred from my past relationship failures so I don’t want to risk it again. Whether it be a marriage relationship or a dating relationship there has been hurt from the past and we carry the scars of past failures. Usually the problem is we have never really embraced the reality that we are flawed, sinful people. In our hurt we hurt other people. It’s true that . . . Hurt people hurt people! We are hurt or we inflict hurt and we don’t deal with the past in order to move into the future. We keep bringing the hurt, pain, regrets, unresolved issues and non-forgiving spirit into our future relationships.
When it comes to marriage and relationships it is a fact you will most likely mess up. But when you mess up, you don’t give up! The key to success in any marriage or relationship is when you “mess up” you “fess up” and you “get up.” When you are scared and intimidated the real game changer in all of this is . . . The odds are against us but God is for us! When you see that the odds are over here and God is over here, given the choice, I will go with God every time. When our backs are against the wall and it seems like we are losing in our relationships we must remember . . . The odds are against us but God is for us!
If you don’t want to be a statistic and you want to beat the odds in your marriage and your relationships here is what you have to do. You have to deal with your past, to get into your present before you can ever move into your future. That happens through forgiveness. We have to forgive what has happened in the past, to get into the present to have hope of success in the future! We have to practice forgiveness and do what we have said for a long time that we cannot do . . . Forgive and forget!
How many of you have ever heard that or how many of you have ever said that in the past? I will forgive you but I just can’t forget! That’s one of those sayings that sounds good, but it just doesn’t work and simply can’t be true. Here’s why . . . if you are not willing to forget you really are not willing to forgive. I know we retain a lot of stuff although the older I get the more I do forget. But the truth is we do retain a lot of stuff and especially painful memories from our past.
What we have to realize that in order to really forgive we have to forget. Think of it like a scar from a previous injury or surgery. I have several scars on my body. When I look at those I can’t help but remember why and how I got those scars. I remember what happened and how it happened but it doesn’t hurt anymore. While I do remember the pain I have forgotten the effects of the pain. I remember the hurt as I always will but it doesn’t hurt anymore. I have moved on; I have healed my body and my mind of the pain. I have chosen to forgive, or as the song says, “Let it go” and forgot about it. In our relationships, while you will remember what happened and the pain that was there, you have to forget the effects of the pain.
God made us to be in relationship with others. Friendships, boyfriend/girlfriend dating relationships, marriage, etc. We are all made for relationships. But the sad statistic is when surveyed 25% of people don’t feel connected to someone. They are living life alone which is not how we are made to live this life. It’s like velcro. Velcro is made in two different pieces that are made for each other so they can each fulfill their purpose. Velcro was never made to be alone; velcro was made to be used together. But when velcro is put together sometimes it is ripped apart and as long as it stays apart it is alone it’s not fulfilling it’s purpose. Life was never meant to be lived alone! We grow and find our purpose in relationships.
But in these relationships we have problems. I am convinced that number one reason we are having so many problems in our relationships today is a lack of forgiveness. We are not dealing with our past to get to the present so we are not experiencing success in our future! We keep bringing all the hurt, pain, mistakes and failures with us into all our relationships because we have not either asked for forgiveness or forgiven them much less forgotten about it.
I have two questions for you . . . Are you a Gomer? and Are you a Hosea? The reason I ask those questions is because there is a story in the Bible about the prophet Hosea and his wife Gomer. As we look at this story there are many ways that all of us are a “Gomer.” There are also ways that we can make the choice not to be a “Gomer.” But we all have to choose to be a “Hosea.” If you have your Bible turn with me to the book of Hosea. Close to the end of the Old Testament there is a section of books called the Minor Prophets. They were not minor because of their message but they were minor because of the length of their book.
If you happen not to have your Bible it will be on the screen so you can follow along. 2 When the Lord first spoke through Hosea, the Lord said to Hosea, “Go, take to yourself a wife of whoredom and have children of whoredom, for the land commits great whoredom by forsaking the Lord.” (Hosea 1:1-2).
God comes to his prophet Hosea and says, “Hosea, I want you to get married. Now I don’t want you to just marry any girl. I want you to marry a prostitute and I want you to have children with this prostitute.” And he puts in Hosea’s heart a genuine, affectionate, caring love for Gomer. This is not just him saying, “I hate this woman, but I’ll marry her because you’ve commanded me to.” God put it into Hosea’s heart to love her, pursue her, and be totally committed to Gomer even though she was a prostitute.
Despite his love, despite his romance, despite his care, despite him trying to help her flourish, Gomer repeatedly cheated on him. She willingly gave herself to other men, and at one point in the book actually becomes the property of another man. Hosea sells some of his possessions, and buys the woman who is already his wife and the mother of his children back from another man. That’s is humiliating and gut wrenching to say the least.
All of us in our sin nature are a “Gomer.” We have cheated on God. We have done sinful and unrighteous things to God that hurt Him. We have turned our backs on Him. We have run from Him to pursue other loves, desires and relationships. So in many ways we are all a “Gomer.” We cheat, we run, we turn our backs, we pursue other people and other things rather than God. But although in one way we are all a “Gomer” in another way we can all choose not to be a “Gomer.” We can choose to be faithful to God, to stay with God, to be loyal to God, to pursue only God, etc. Or we can choose to cheat, run, turn our backs on God and pursue other things and other people other than God. So make the choice . . . Don’t be a “Gomer.”
But the bigger question I want to ask today in this story is, “Are you a Hosea?” Because I believe the example of Hosea has a lot to teach us when it comes to our relationship to God and others. The first thing you see about Hosea is his willingness to trust and obey God. You saw in that first verse we looked at that God said, “Hosea, I want you to get married. But don’t just marry anybody. I want you to marry a prostitute.” Hosea doesn’t question though obviously this is not normally what somebody would recommend to someone wanting to get married. Hosea doesn’t hesitate but moves straight into action. 3 So he went and took Gomer, the daughter of Diblaim (Hosea 1:3).
When God speaks and tells you to do something how do you respond? Do you question? Do you doubt? Do you hesitate? Or, do you without any hesitation just obey. Hosea says, “Okay. If that is what you want me to do, I will go and ask Gomer to marry me.” When you look at Hosea you see a person who in any and all situations loved God, served God and was obedient to God.
Later in the story we see another situation between Hosea and Gomer where he shows us in an even much bigger way how obedient, faithful and committed he was to God’s will for his life. Hosea has been faithful to Gomer as her husband. They have had children and somewhere in the story she has gone back to a lifestyle of prostitution. But then it gets even worse than that. At some point she has actually become the property of another man. God speaks to Hosea at this point and asks him to do something that seems so unfair, so unjust and extremely humiliating.
He tells Hosea to go and buy her back! And the Lord said to me, “Go again, love a woman who is loved by another man and is an adulteress, even as the Lord loves the children of Israel, though they turn to other gods and love cakes of raisins.” (Hosea 3:1). That must have been a heart wrenching process. You are looking for your wife who was a former prostitute who is now back into prostitution. Where do you go looking for her? How messy is that search? How painful is that pursuit? As you walk those streets in neighborhoods where you know you shouldn’t go.
But in these places is of all the people in the world, Hosea the man of God looking for of all people, his wife. Then what does he do? 2 So I bought her for fifteen shekels of silver and a homer and a lethech of barley. (Hosea 3:2). She is his wife and she is already his but he buys her back. Imagine the scene with me. Hosea finally finds her somewhere and in some condition being sold to the highest bidder. He walks up and says, “Excuse me, sir. But that’s my wife.” This man replies back, “I don’t care who you think she is. This is her price and if you want her this is what you will have to pay.”
And the most amazing thing happens . . . He pays for what is already his and buys her back! Can you imagine what that exchange was like when Hosea looked into the eyes of his wife. She most likely hung her head in embarrassment saying, “He’s found me. I’ve abandoned him and I’ve abandoned our three kids. But yet he insists on buying me.” These other men sought to buy her to use her. Hosea is buying her to heal her because he lover her! In that moment and all moments forward he is letting her know that he genuinely loves her and he sincerely forgives her for what she has done.
As you look at this, I want you to see something about forgiveness. I want you to see . . . The power and necessity of practicing forgiveness. Think about this with me . . . Did Hosea have to do this? (No) . . . Did Hosea need to do this? (Yes) . . . Did Gomer deserve this? (Absolutely Not) . . . Was this easy? (Absolutely Not) . . . Was it necessary? (Yes). And let me explain why I say it was necessary. I know God told Him to and that makes it something that is necessary. But even beyond that there is power in practicing forgiveness.
One of the reasons I believe we have so many problems in our relationships is the lack of forgiveness. We have never really forgiven people for what they have done to us or forgiven ourselves for what we have done to them. We keep bringing the baggage and bitterness of a non forgiving spirit into all our relationships. Whether it be marriage, dating, work, family or just friendship, all of our relationships are affected by our unwillingness to forgive and forget. We have never practiced relational forgiveness in the past to get into the present so we can experience relational success in the future. We wonder why our relationships are always a mess and we can’t find joy.
It’s because we keep repeating the same negative cycle over and over again because we have never really forgiven others or forgiven ourselves. The worst place this could ever happen is within the Body of Christ where people are “brothers and sisters in Christ” but don’t forgive or ask for forgiveness. People say, “Well, they don’t talk to me.” Ok, understood. But have you talked to them? You want to know how you can know you have truly forgiven somebody for what they have done or asked and been forgiven for what you have done? When you can see them and not “duck and hide” from them.
As hard as it is to admit to ourselves the Bible says Hosea is a picture of God and you and I are a picture of Gomer. Hosea humbles himself and buys back what is already his. Our story of redemption through the blood of Jesus is within this story. It starts in the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve chose to rebel against God and chose their own pleasures over God. At that moment sin nature was birthed and passed down to all us. God sends Jesus to be the permanent fix to our sin problem.
Through His blood He pays for something that is already His and for something He didn’t do! 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. (Romans 5:8-10).
The Bible says the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof and mankind is the unique possession of the creator God. And yet, two thousand years ago He paid a dear price for what He already possessed. He sent His Son who spilled His blood to purchase back what was already owned. Think about this . . . Did Jesus have to do this? (No) Did Jesus need to do this? (Yes) . . . Did you and I deserve this? (Absolutely Not) . . . Was this easy? (Absolutely Not) . . . Was it necessary? (Yes).
When you forgive others you are being obedient to God and modeling for everyone what Jesus did for you! When you choose to be a “Hosea” people see Jesus in you and you find the joy and peace that has been so successfully alluding you in your relationships. Did you see what Hosea’s forgiveness was supposed to look like? We read it a minute ago and let’s look at it again. And the Lord said to me, “Go again, love a woman who is loved by another man and is an adulteress, even as the Lord loves the children of Israel, though they turn to other gods and love cakes of raisins.” (Hosea 3:1).
Are you a Gomer? By your sin nature, yes you are. But in your daily life you can choose to not be a Gomer. What Gomer did was totally her choice and what you do is totally your choice! Are you a Hosea? Have you forgiven yourself for what you have done to others? Have you asked others to forgive you? Have you forgiven others for what they have done to you? Don’t be a Gomer! . . . Choose to be a Hosea!