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There is always a price for unfaithfulness. A telling quote illustrates what I’m talking about: “Infidelity doesn’t come from a lack of love; it comes from a lack of respect.” Admittedly, respect is earned, not demanded. But when one has earned the respect of a trustworthy and dependable;e person, it isn’t too much for that person to expect faithfulness.

No, imagine what happens when a whole nation stops respecting God! And we can truthfully say that God has earned our respect through His faithfulness to us. He has earned our respect through His love for us and His actions toward us. He emptied Himself and became Man for us so, it is little wonder that infidelity to God flows from our abandoning respect for God!

Look at our lesson today from Isaiah 9:9-10:4:

Thus says the LORD: “And all the people will know, Ephraim and the inhabitants of Samaria, who say in pride and in arrogance of heart: ‘The bricks have fallen, but we will build with dressed stones; the sycamores have been cut down, but we will put cedars in their place.'” So the LORD raises adversaries against them, and stirs up their enemies. The Syrians on the east and the Philistines on the west devour Israel with open mouth. For all this his anger is not turned away and his hand is stretched out still. The people did not turn to him who smote them, nor seek the LORD of hosts. So the LORD cut off from Israel head and tail, palm branch and reed in one day – the elder and honored man is the head, and the prophet who teaches lies is the tail; for those who lead this people lead them astray, and those who are led by them are swallowed up. Therefore the Lord does not rejoice over their young men, and has no compassion on their fatherless and widows; for every one is godless and an evildoer, and every mouth speaks folly. For all this his anger is not turned away and his hand is stretched out still. For wickedness burns like a fire, it consumes briers and thorns; it kindles the thickets of the forest, and they roll upward in a column of smoke. Through the wrath of the LORD of hosts the land is burned, and the people are like fuel for the fire; no man spares his brother. They snatch on the right, but are still hungry, and they devour on the left, but are not satisfied; each devours his neighbor’s flesh, Manasseh, Ephraim, and Ephraim, Manasseh, and together they are against Judah. For all this his anger is not turned away and his hand is stretched out still.

Woe to those who decree iniquitous decrees, and the writers who keep writing oppression, to turn aside the needy from justice and to rob the poor of my people of their right, that widows may be their spoil, and that they may make the fatherless their prey! What will you do on the day of punishment, in the storm which will come from afar? To whom will you flee for help, and where will you leave your wealth? Nothing remains but to crouch among the prisoners or fall among the slain. For all this his anger is not turned away and his hand is stretched out still.

Isaiah is confronting the People of God in both Israel and Judah with the consequences of unfaithfulness to God! And this abandonment of respect and unfaithfulness flows from two very foolish attitudes that prove these people have abandoned respect for God.

First, the weakness of “we’ve got this!” Look at what they say when they have to admit that “the bricks have fallen.” The symptoms of decay and the consequences of their infidelity to God are all around them. Their “infrastructure” has begun to crumble. But that’s what happens when we neglect the centering wisdom of a purposeful focus on God first. Our lives begin to crumble. But, instead of tears of repentance, these folks prove their unfaithful heart by pridefully claiming “we will build with dressed stones.” An unfaithful and disrespectful heart always arrogantly assumes they can fix the brokenness all by themselves. They will discover just how wrong they are!

Second, the weakness of trusting the wrong people. These folks in the northern kingdom think their “strong” allies in the Syrian kingdom are going to save them. They are wrong! But that’s the consequence of infidelity. You start trusting the wrong people and start having confidence in the wrong answers! And when they prove to be faulty friends to lean on, you fall! The unfaithfulness and disrespect blind you to the grace God extends to you with His outstretched Hand, and you lean on weak, fair weather, friends and they fail you! Infidelity is costly!

Today, we all struggle with consistent faithfulness to God. But know that when I start taking God for granted, when I start losing respect for God and His place in my life, infidelity is right outside the door along with all the consequences of that very wrong turn. Being Orthodox on Purpose demands faithfulness!

P.S. Dear Lord, forgive me for my unfaithfulness to You and help me keep always before my eyes and mind to respect and love You first above all other loves. Amen

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