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You’re Breaking My Heart

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When my wife, Mary, was four years old, her father left his home—and his marriage—to seek love in the arms of another woman. He broke the heart of his little girl.

My father-in-law died a few years ago, but sometimes I still get angry at the pain he inflicted on my wife and her family. I wonder how he could be so selfish as to choose forbidden pleasure above his own family’s welfare. I wonder how he could insist on his own way even when it meant devastation for those he professed to love. It just doesn’t make sense. And then God reminds me of how I sometimes treat Him.

Sin is ugly. It devastates the One I profess to love. It absolutely breaks the heart of Him who gave His life for me. When I insist on my own way, I am no different from my father-in-law. Believers who choose to disobey have been “. . . unfaithful to their God” (Hos. 4:12).

Make no mistake. Our sin is first of all against Him (Gen. 39:9). In a real way, our sin is a failure to love the Lord and the people around us. No matter how many good things we do, if we fail to love the Lord, we fail supremely. So it’s appropriate that one of our core values in the C&MA is this: nowing and obeying God’s Word is fundamental to all true success.

You know the story of Hosea. He doesn’t just tell us what happens when you break the heart of God; he shows us. In a stunning illustration, God tells Hosea to marry a prostitute. Hosea is devastated when his wife leaves him and their children for other men.

Implicit in this story is God’s view of our relationship with Him, which many times, in both the Old and New Testaments, He compares to marriage. In Isaiah 62:5 the Lord says, “As a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you.” In Ephesians 5:25, he tells husbands, “Love your wives, just as [I] loved the church.”

When I publicly profess my commitment to Him in baptism, it’s like standing in front of family and friends at a wedding and saying to God, “I do.” We’re entering into a covenant with Him, for as long as we both shall live. He loves us, and He asks for our love—and obedience—in return.

Here’s what we learn from Hosea. When we allow sin to fester in our lives, we commit spiritual adultery against God. Through Gomer and Hosea, He wants to make it crystal clear that when we sin against Him, we break His heart. God doesn’t respond like a calloused police officer scribbling a ticket. He doesn’t view our disobedience with the detachment of an anthropologist. He does not study our case like a judge. Instead, He is grieved as much as a spouse who is cheated on.

In adultery, affection never belongs solely to one person; it has to be shared. Suppose a guy says to his wife, “Honey, here’s the deal. I still want a relationship with you, I really do. It’s just that I also consider this other person very important in my life. You can handle that, can’t you?” Aren’t there times we try to do that with God? I want to follow You, I really do, we pray. But there’s just this one area I need to hang onto for a bit longer.

And how does God feel? In James 4:4 we read: “You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God?” That’s why you could say that love is the root of obedience. If I sing on Sunday morning, “Lord, I love you,” and on Monday morning I lose my cool again with a colleague or take a peek at a porn site or fudge a little to make a sale—or I stand silent when the Lord prompts me to reach out to someone—do I really love Him?

Jesus said to his closest followers, just before His crucifixion, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him” (John14:23). And then He says, “He who does not love me will not obey my teaching” (v. 24). When I choose to sin instead of doing what pleases Him, it’s a failure to love. And I break the heart of God.

Is there an area where we’re breaking His heart? What decisions or commitment to obedience would we make right now if we were determined not to make Him share the affection that He alone deserves? For His sake, will you choose to obey today?

When we determine to follow His Word, we find He’s been waiting for us like the father of the prodigal—eyes looking toward the horizon, heart leaping when he sees his long-lost son coming home, arms wrapping that dear one in embrace (Luke 15).

He’s waiting with open arms—for you.

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