God’s children are like spoiled brats. God cares for us in His mercy and grace, and we take advantage of Him. We want our own way.

God’s chosen children, the people of Israel, did this over and over. I read Hosea 11 this morning. This chapter reads like the transcript from an interview with a loving mom and dad whose kids have gotten in trouble. There is so much emotion in these words. This chapter shows God’s character as much as any passage in Scripture.

I know how I feel when my kids act like spoiled brats. I try to help them; I provide them with what they need; I lovingly take care of them; I sacrifice for them … and then they use me for their own selfish desires. God’s children did that to Him. I do that to Him. I try to imagine how God must feel about that. But He is not a mere mortal like us. He is God (see v. 9). He is so patient and longsuffering.

In this passage, God simply tells His children the consequences of their own decisions and actions (vv. 5-7). They are responsible for the consequences of their behavior. God says He will not punish them as His burning anger tells Him to (v. 9), but He will also not remove the natural consequences of their own choices. This is just good parenting!

“Oh, how can I give you up, Israel? How can I let you go? How can I destroy you like Admah and Zeboiim? My heart is torn within me, and my compassion overflows. No, I will not punish you as much as my burning anger tells me to. I will not completely destroy Israel, for I am God and not a mere mortal. I am the Holy One living among you, and I will not come to destroy” (Hosea 11:8-9).

I often feel that way about my own kids when they mess up. How could I give up on them? How could I just let them go? I love them too much. I may get very angry with them, and I will let them deal with the consequences of their actions so that they will learn and grow, but, even as a mere mortal dad, I will never give up on them.

God’s compassion for us is far greater than we can know. Jesus had the very same compassion for people (Matt. 9:36). Note the word overflows. His compassion to His people overflows out of His compassionate heart–His compassionate nature.

God’s compassion overflows into you, leader. Are you putting yourself into a position to receive? When we spend time with God each day, He pours into us to overflowing (John 10:10). Our hearts become like His, filled with compassion that can then overflow into those around us. This is where Leading from the Heart begins!

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Michael Mack has been involved in small group ministry as a pastor, writer, trainer, and speaker for more than 25 years. He founded SmallGroups.com in 1995 and started Small Group Leadership in 2012. He became the 12th editor of Christian Standard magazine in 2017 and continues to speak in churches about small groups, discipleship, and leadership. He lives in Pewee Valley, Kentucky (just outside Louisville), with his wife Heidi. They have four young adult children. Michael enjoys mountain and road biking with a group of friends. See the "About Michael Mack" page under About Us for more about him.

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