Scripture: Seek good and not evil, That you may live; So the LORD God of hosts will be with you.. Amos 5:14 (NKJV)

Observation: In this chapter of Amos, the prophet has been bringing a number of accusations against the people of Israel.  Among the things that they are doing to their own people he includes:  Intimidation of the righteous (v.10, 12b), and abuse of the poor (v.11a, 12b).  Because of their zeal to profit illegally through the courts, they hated any righteous judge who reproved their injustice, and despised any righteous witness who told the truth in defense of the innocent (v.10).
     The abusers found corrupt judges to take bribes and deprive the poor of justice (v.2b). Rich landowners successfully manipulated legal proceedings to trample on the poor, gain ownership of their fields, and force them to give a large fee of grain to remain a tenant on the land (5:11a)
But God knew how many were their offenses (peša‘, “covenant violations”). He knew how great were their sins. Therefore, though they had built stone mansions fit for kings and had planted lush vineyards in the fields that once belonged to small farmers, they would neither live in the houses nor drink the wine (Amos 5:11b-12).
     In spite of their attitude and behavior, there still existed the possibility of repentance for individuals to separate themselves from their guilty nation (cf. vv. 4-6). If people would seek good, not evil, they might yet live. If they would go counter to the prevailing corruption—if they would hate evil instead of hating the righteous (v. 10, if they would maintain justice in the courts instead of trampling it (vv. 11-12)—then the Lord God Almighty would be their Defender instead of their Judge. He would indeed be with them, just as they were claiming He was.

Application: Christian psychologist Willard Harley speaks of the two sides of us, fighting for control.  The “Giver” is the side of our personality that wants to make the other person happy.  It is our unselfish, loving, caring nature that desires what is good for the other and is even willing to be hurt, to be vulnerable, and to be unhappy if in the process the other person is happy.  This side of our personality is very prominent during the time we are dating, during the honeymoon, and early in marriage, and it is the side that promotes true intimacy in marriage, an intimacy that can last a lifetime.
     The “Taker,” on the other hand, is the opposite side of our personality that wants to make sure we are happy, even if it makes the other person unhappy.  This is the selfish, unloving, uncaring, sinful nature that desires what pleases us in disregard of the other person’s needs.  When the Taker takes over in our marriage, conflict becomes a regular part of life.  If allowed to continue to dominate our relationship, the Taker will eventually lead us to withdraw from our spouse – emotionally, physically, spiritually – and at the end it could lead to the end of our relationship.
     What the prophet Amos suggests is that we not only allow but encourage the Giver side of our personality to dominate in our relationship so we will seek to do what is good for our spouse – and for others in our life – rather than evil (that’s the Taker in our lives).  When we seek to do what is good – which is also what Agape love, caring love, is all about – the promise from Amos is that God will be with us.  This does not mean that there are times when God is not with us – God is everywhere and always with us (Mat. 28:20) – but rather that His abiding, loving present will be real in our relationship to make it a healthier, more intimate one, one that reflects His relationship with us, and one which reflects His plan for our lives.

A Prayer You May Say: Father, You desire that Your type of love – unselfish, caring, self-sacrificing love – reign in our relationships.  Help me to seek what is good for my spouse so that I may reflect Your love to them and so that Your plan for our married life may be fulfilled in us.

Used by permission of Adventist Family Ministries, North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists.



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