In Hosea 4:1, Yahweh brings his charge against Israel:
There is no faithfulness or steadfast love,
and no knowledge of God in the land;
Notice that God identifies three things missing from Israel:
- Knowledge of God
- Steadfast love (or kindness – NLT).
The description here suggests a complete absence, not I think to suggest that no-one at all expresses trust in God or acts in a kind and loving way but that the theology, culture and practice found in Israel is so far away from worship of the true and living God, so marked out by violence in word and deed as well as sexual immorality and pagan rituals that evil dominates and there is no sense of goodness, faithfulness and kindness in the land.
Now, the important thing I want to pick up here is that the three are linked. If we want people to live healthy, godly lives then they need to know God. The people have been unfaithful to God, they have chosen to worship idols and to reject God’s Word and Law. The result is that the children are not taught God’s word and it isn’t ever present, written on the doorposts and carried on their arms and foreheads. Unfaithfulness towards God means that the people d not know him, his character or his ways.
That’s why we see that steadfast love or kindness is absent. Paul in Titus 3:4-5 writes:
“But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Saviour appeared, 5 he saved us.”
Notice there that God’s kindness is one of his essential attributes and in fact is so closely linked to the incarnation and God’s revelation of his salvation purposes that we might go so far as to say that Jesus is the kindness of God.
A failure to know God, his character and his ways that arises out of neglect for him and his word will affect how we live. Furthermore, the absence of godly characteristics such as steadfast love or kindness highlights a lack of faithfulness and a lack of true knowledge of God. We can boast about our Bible knowledge and doctrinal expertise but if we are not marked out as loving, faithful and kind then it suggests that we do not truly know God. We may know about him and know intellectual arguments but we do not truly know him as Lord and Saviour.
So, take a health check. How is your own spiritual maturity doing? How is your church doing? You will be helped by answering one simple question:
“Am I/Are we known to be kind?”