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Real Joy

Hosea 3:1–5

Several years ago, at a women’s retreat where their theme was “Experiencing the Joy!” I remember telling them that “real joy is knowing the depth of your sin and the extent of your idolatry.” Until you believe with your whole being that, given the right set of circumstances, you are capable of committing any sin, and until you know that apart from Christ there is nothing that’s naturally good in you, then you will never know real joy.

Real joy is knowing how bad I am and then comparing it to how much I have been forgiven. Jesus said it himself: Those who have been forgiven much, love much. Their gratitude spills over, and they find themselves crazy in love with God, falling at his feet, worshiping with abandon. They find themselves loving others extravagantly and forgiving others from the heart. For not only do those who have been forgiven much love much, but they forgive much too (see Luke 7:41–48). As the Bible instructs, we are to “be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32).

Although some sins are more heinous than others—murder is more detrimental to society than entertaining lustful thoughts or stealing a packet of Sweet ‘N Low—all sin is grievous to God. All sin separates us from him. All sin is serious . . .

Whenever my heart starts to grow cold, when I take comfort in being “not so bad” and seek satisfaction in feeling superior to others, all I need is to look at the cross of Christ. Then, once I see clearly that it was me who put Jesus there, I remember his words to another sinful woman: “Your sins are forgiven . . . Your faith has saved you; go in peace” (Luke 7:48, 50).

—Nancy Kennedy


Put yourself in Hosea’s place. How do you think he felt when he was asked to take back an adulteress wife?
Now put yourself in Hosea’s wife’s place. How grateful do you think she was for Hosea’s love? How does it make you feel to know that God is always willing to take you back—regardless of how “bad” you are?
Spend some time reflecting on the thought that real joy is knowing how much you’ve been forgiven. Thank your heavenly Husband for forgiving you and loving you enough to send his Son to provide perfect peace and joy.
Hosea 3:1
The LORD said to me, “Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another man and is an adulteress. Love her as the LORD loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods and love the sacred raisin cakes.”

Related Readings

Psalm 103:8–12; Isaiah 38:16–19; Acts 3:19

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