The people of Israel feed on the wind; they chase after the east wind all day long. They pile up lies and violence; they are making an alliance with Assyria while sending olive oil to buy support from Egypt.
Now the Lord is bringing charges against Judah. He is about to punish Jacob for all his deceitful ways, and pay him back for all he has done. Even in the womb, Jacob struggled with his brother; when he became a man, he even fought with God. Yes, he wrestled with the angel and won. He wept and pleaded for a blessing from him. There at Bethel he met God face to face, and God spoke to him—the Lord God of Heaven’s Armies, the Lord is his name! So now, come back to your God. Act with love and justice, and always depend on him. (Hosea 12:1-6)
The two principles that Hosea called his nation to live by—love and justice—are at the very foundation of God’s character. They are essential to his followers, but they are not easy to balance. Some people practice love to the point that they excuse wrongdoing. Others practice justice to the extent that they forget love.
Love without justice leaves people in their sins because it is not aiming at a higher standard. Justice without love drives people away from God because it has no heart. If we forget God’s love, we’ll be left believing that our sins leave us hopeless. But if we forget his justice against our sins, we make the mistake of thinking he will continue to accept us no matter how we act.
Forgiveness is the key (Hosea 14:1-2). When God forgives us, he judges the sin but shows mercy to the sinner.
Today’s church, just like Hosea’s nation, must live out both love and justice. These two values are not in conflict. We maintain each of them by being a community of forgiveness. The church should practice both love and justice in the context of forgiveness. In this way, the world will be able to see Christ.