My favorite word in all of Holy Scripture is the Hebrew word chesed. It is such a rich word that no one English word can capture its depth. So, chesedis translated in various ways across the English translations: mercy, grace, steadfast love, covenant loyalty, kindness, and compassion are just a smattering of words used to try and grasp this wonderful idea that God shows chesed to people.
It is no wonder, then, that since chesed so marks the character and activity of God that he very much desires his people to reflect this same stance toward others. In this prophecy of Hosea, God is calling, even wooing his people back to himself. God demonstrates chesed by not putting his people away, like a man divorcing his wife, but commits himself to loving the Israelites even when they are unlovely. The response God is looking for is not simply going through the motions of outward worship. Instead, God longs for his people to recommit themselves to proper fidelity. “For I desire chesed, and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.”
Returning to God means not simply doing a few outward shows, like showing up for church at Christmas or putting some loose change in the Salvation Army bucket. Coming back to God means accepting the chesed of the Lord through Jesus Christ and allowing that same character of God to rule and reign in our hearts so that love and commitment come flowing out in our words, actions, thoughts, and dispositions.
Let us today receive the forgiveness of Jesus and devote ourselves to prayer and works of love that come from a heart profoundly touched by grace. May the result be healing of that which has been broken, and reconciled relationships with others.
O God of love, forgive me for my wandering away from you. Bring me back again to the grace of Jesus my Savior so that my heart will be renewed and aflame with love for others. In the Name of the Father, Son, and Spirit, the Great Three in One. Amen.