Love hurts, love scars
Love wounds and marks
Not tough or strong enough
To take a lot of pain, take a lot of pain
Love is like a cloud
Holds a lot of rain
So sang the Scottish rock band, Nazareth, in 1975. Or as C.S. Lewis put it, “to love at all is to be vulnerable.” East of Eden, love always hurts. Either we grieve the loss of those we love, or they grieve us by telling us to get lost. Love hurts.
So too in the book of Hosea. The prophet was surely pained by the perpetual infidelity of the woman he married. Even more so, God was pained by the perpetual stubbornness and sin of His people. In Hosea 6:4-7, God says through the prophet, “What shall I do with you, O Ephraim? What shall I do with you, O Judah? Your love is like a morning cloud, like the dew that goes early away. Therefore I have hewn them by the prophets; I have slain them by the words of my mouth, and my judgment goes forth as the light. For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings. But like Adam they transgressed the covenant; there they dealt faithlessly with me.” In some mysterious way the heart of God is grieved by the sins of His people.
This grief is even more evident in Hosea 11:8. Here God Himself laments, “How can I give you up, O Ephraim? How can I hand you over, O Israel? How can I make you like Admah? [dirt] How can I treat you like Zeboiim? [one of the cities destroyed alongside Sodom and Gomorrah] My heart recoils within me; my compassion grows warm and tender.”
Commenting on how our sin grieves the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:30), Charles Spurgeon once said, “Sin everywhere must be displeasing to the Spirit of holiness, but sin in his own people is grievous to him in the highest degree. He will not hate his people, but he does hate their sins, and hates them all the more because they nestle in his children’s bosoms. The Spirit would not be the Spirit of truth if he could approve of that which is false in us: he would not be pure if that which is impure in us did not grieve him. The Holy Spirit’s grief is not of a petty, oversensitive nature. “He is grieved with us mainly for our own sakes, for he knows what misery sin will cost us; he reads our sorrows in our sins . . . He grieves over us because he sees how much chastisement we incur, and how much communion we lose."
So Christian, slay your sin because it grieves your God. And know, if you’ve been loved like this you should love like this. And sometimes that will mean loving even when it hurts.