What Follows (Hosea 14:9)

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 righteous will walk in them,
But transgressors will stumble in them.

Hosea 14:9

During His time walking the Earth, Jesus said something very like this. The words of Jesus are about having ears to hear, but the general idea is the same.

Something that I dearly wanted to know about the verbs in this verse is their tense. I know that bores most people, but I am a word nerd and know that the tense of a verb is almost as important as the verb chosen. Every verb I looked at is in the imperfect which indicates actions that are ongoing or not yet completed. So the understanding and knowing and walking and stumbling are all continuous actions. The wise will keep understanding and the discerning will keep knowing and the righteous keep walking and transgressors will keep stumbling.

That might seem to have nothing to do with me or my daily life, but that seeming is misleading. If I habitually understand what I am reading in The Bible and regularly discern which choice God would have me make and frequently notice the works of God in my life then I can conclude that I am among the wise and discerning. This is not as comforting as what follows, but it is a start. I am not a complete fool and that gives me a small measure of comfort.

The follow-on is important. It says that the righteous will walk in those things. It is not enough to understand and discern and notice, all of that must move me to an action: walking in the things I know. If I discern that God wants me to go to the right and I continue straight on then my discernment has availed me not at all. If I do not implement the lessons I find in scripture then my understanding has profited me nothing. If I notice God’s hand moving things around in my life and it does not move me to gratitude and praise and telling others about God’s goodness toward me then I might just as well have been blind to God’s work in my life.

Paul would say something very similar when he wrote that he could have all manner of blessing and spiritual gifting but actually have nothing if all those blessings and spiritual gifts were without love. Paul also wrote that the love of Christ compels us to action. Love is what motivates and moves and bounds the actions of Christians.

Did I understand what I read this morning? Yes. Yes, I did. Do I see how it can be implemented in my life? Absolutely. The first two boxes have been ticked. It is what follows that determines whether I am righteous or a transgressor. Will I act on what I have learned and discerned or will it just cause me to stumble; to be weak? Understanding and discerning are good, but what follows is what makes all the difference.

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