Sunday Worship at 11AM | 4967 Fincher Rd., Canton, GA 30114

“‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’” (Matthew 15:8-9 ESV)

Earlier in our devotion, on Day 5, we looked at truth: that if we know the right thing to do and we don’t do it, that for us is sin (James 4:17). Today I’d like to share a profound truth with you, it isn’t just about what you do but how and why you do it. Simply, God cares about the why, your heart and intentions matter to Him.

Today we see Jesus once again correcting the Pharisees. Side note, it sure does seem like Jesus did a lot of correcting of the religious elite who “knew” the most about God. I encourage you to go back and read Matthew 15:8-9 in its full context. In the Scripture we see the Pharisees angry at Jesus because His disciples were not honoring the traditions of the elders. In the exchange, Jesus corrects the Pharisees for breaking the commands of God for the sake of their tradition.

Jesus, speaking to a group of extremely religious, zealous, knowledgeable, self-righteous, externally holy men said that they honored God with their lips, but their hearts were far from Him. Oh, how my heart breaks to know that the church is full of those who praise God with their lips, but their hearts are from Him. How many of us are desperately trying to appear holy and righteous on the surface but just below the places men can see we are dead or dying?

There are several times in the New Testament where we see Jesus take the commandments of God and expound on them to reveal the heart of God. One example is recorded like this: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matthew 5:27-28 ESV) Jesus took the command, don’t engage in sexual activity outside the marriage and He reveals God’s heart behind the command. Not just physical purity, but emotional and spiritual purity too.

What is the point? Your heart matters to God. It isn’t just about what you do or don’t do, it is about the heart behind why you do what you do. If you’ve ever been married, you know this truth well. It is possible to do the right thing for the wrong reasons and still hurt your spouse. Often in our most intimate relationships, we are hurt when the intention of the person isn’t in the right place. Strangely enough, even if they fail, if their heart was in the right place, we can feel the love they have for us.

So… why do you do the things you do? Have you ever stopped long enough to consider it? Are you doing everything for the glory of God out of a deep love, appreciation, and awareness of His love for you? Or are you trying to check some boxes to try and earn God’s favor and love? Are you praising God on the surface of your life while your heart is far from Him? It may be time to prayerfully seek God’s will concerning not only what you are doing but why.

If you are up for a challenge, here is something that may begin revealing the why behind the what. When you do things, especially things related to your faith, do you do those things for:
• Recognition or acknowledgment
• Earthly rewards
• Praise from others
• Attention

Notice that those things are very “me” focused. When it becomes about me instead of Christ in me, there is a problem. Along this same way of thinking, when you do things for Christ are you:
• Irritated
• Inconvenienced
• Obligated
• Required

Those types of emotions and thoughts reveal a deeper, inappropriate motivation behind what we say or do. To simplify this a bit, our acts of worship should be Christ focused and from a place of love, adoration, appreciation, and humility. Stop for a few moments and make yourself a list of the religious things you do regularly, and beside each thing write your true motivation. When you are done, look at your list and ask God to reveal areas that need to change. Your list might look like this:

Sample list:
• Tithing – I’m biblically required to
• Serving in the kid’s ministry – no one else will serve
• Attending church service – because good Christians should
• Helping out at the food pantry – I want impoverished families to feel loved
• Supporting local mission projects – I want to share Jesus with my community
• Inviting others to church – others need Jesus
• Attending small group – I like to eat and fellowship
• Reading the Bible – I want to learn more about God
• Prayer – God wants to hear from me

Look at the example list. Can you spot the areas that are probably pleasing to God and which ones may be from a wrong heart? If an item on your list is not Christ focused and is not motivated out of a place of love, I wonder if it is pleasing to God? Or, like so many other times in my life, might God say: it isn’t what you did or didn’t do, it’s how you did it and why.

Father, forgive me when I turn our relationship into a religion. Forgive me Lord when I do things out of obligation instead of a love and devotion to You. Forgive me when my intentions are wrong and the way I’m thinking about things doesn’t please You. Holy Spirit, please reveal the intentions of my actions to me, especially those that are coming from a wrong motivation. Help me walk in faith, love, and trust. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.



Categories: Devotion