Whoever is wise, let him understand these things;

   whoever is discerning, let him know them;

for the ways of the LORD are right,

   and the upright walk in them,

   but transgressors stumble in them.

Hosea 14: 9

The things that are to be understood are the ways of the Lord. That is, righteousness, mercy, justice, peacemaking, and love for people who would otherwise be considered as either beneath that sort of care and concern or who would be thought of as enemies. These are not small things, either, for they frame in a life that is committed to God and that is dedicated to following His will and to being His person in the world. The prophet also sets out an opposing approach to living out our days as those who do not wish to seek out the Lord and engage in following His Word will also travel through life in a journey that has its own consequences and outcome. They are seen as people who stumble and who bump into the obstacles of life in ways that are uncomfortable and that result in spiritual bruising and injury.

Yet, that is not how things often seem. The righteous are known to suffer and to be considered as outcasts in society. Godliness is certainly not always found to be desirable or even acceptable in many places on earth. There is a tension that exists between living as God calls upon people to do so and living in a manner that finds acceptance and favor in our world. Still, we are called by God to enter into wisdom, that is, to follow Him and to adopt the truths of Christ’s gospel as our own. We are to be generous people that give of our wealth and that also give away ourselves in ways that demonstrate grace, mercy, and acceptance to people that do not know God and that might not otherwise encounter the presence of Christ in the course of their days.

The Lord desires for His people to follow Him and to do what is right and just as we go. He does this so that our lives will be conducted in a manner that more fully reflects the glory of His holiness and so that the rest of our world will see that contrastive goodness and seek after it for themselves. He also calls us into righteousness so that life in this world will go well with our own souls. There is something troubling and unsettling about knowing Christ and still living outside of the boundaries of God’s will. When we do that our souls are troubled as we are functioning in a manner wherein our thoughts and actions are set on a collision course with the essence of who we have become as Christ’s Spirit has come to dwell within us. Here, like it was with the recipients of Hosea’s message, we are called upon by God to repent, to seek out the Lord and enter into His will, and to turn away from the ways of the world and to embrace the grace, love, and peace that come from walking along the path that the Spirit sets out for us to follow.