The other night I was doing my nightly quiet time when I came across this verse from Hosea 5:11:

"Is Ephraim maltreated, his rights violated? No, he has willingly gone after filth!"

That got me thinking: what exactly is filth?

What if filth is something more than we think of it as? So often we think I don't murder, I don't steal, I don't watch porn, I don't do drugs so this doesn't apply to me.

But what if it still does?

What if you're working hard to do go deeds but the reason you do them is the ego boost you get from being recognized for them? Is that filth?

What if you're leading a good life but leaving God out of it except on Sundays? Is that filth?

What if you're willingly standing in His way, refusing to live up to your potential? Is that filth?

Yes. It is.

And that's a bitter pill to swallow. Because if that's true, then that makes the first part of the verse applicable to us too. Our rights haven't been violated. We haven't been mistreated.

We aren't victims.

We're not.

Don't get me wrong; I'm not saying that Hurricane Katrina was sent to punish sins or that bad things like the death of a loved one or the loss of a job are only due to sin. They're not. Sometimes, even when we're doing our best, things go horribly wrong. That's a part of life. Sometimes we have nothing to do with it and these things just happen for reasons we may not understand at the time.

Think about it this way: let's say you fall into the category of refusing to live up to your potential. Instead of pushing for something that would use the talents God gave you and bring glory back to Him, you settle. You take a job that you're over-qualified for in the place you grew up in because it's convenient. You run a 10k and decide that's close enough to running a marathon. You lose a few pounds then stop instead of pushing for your goal.

None of those are bad things, per se. But then what happens? Sometimes you still see yourself running that marathon. You become bored at that job and in your life in general. You check out mentally and spend your time alone. The weight slowly creeps back on. And eventually you walk away from it all. You tell yourself that you tried and that's all that matters. That there's nothing to be done. That life is unfair; you didn't have the money to move, you wouldn't have gotten that job anyways, you would have hurt yourself if you'd run a marathon, you're not as fat as you once were.

And just like that, you start to play the victim. You whine and complain about the unfairness or else you just shut down & live with it.

You've willingly gone after filth. And you know it. In your heart of hearts, you know it.

But Hosea was right. You haven't been maltreated. No rights were violated. You chose this path. You sold yourself short and went after filth instead.

At the end of the day, every single decision we make has a consequence. And when we chose the option that does anything other than glorify God, we chose filth.

So it's time to stop playing the victim. Life is unfair. Bad things happen. But we were all made for more than filth. It's time to start living that way.

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