Friday, August 1, 2014

How to do the right thing and still miss the point

In reading through Scripture this morning I read this provocative line in 2 Chronicles 25: 2: And he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, yet not with a whole heart.

This verse describes the twenty-five year old king of Judah, Amaziah. I don't know how this strikes you but it troubles me. It troubles me to think that we can do the right thing yet miss the point.

This condition is very prevalent in the church. People who never miss a Sunday. They read through the bible every year, they tithe...even on the gross! They serve on committees, engage in ministries and still miss the point. It is possible to do the right thing with the wrong motive.

What went wrong?
Externally, Amaziah was doing the right things but internally he harbored hidden idols. This reminds me of a recent quote from Barnabas Piper's new book, The Pastor's Kid: Finding your Own Faith and Identity:
I spent all those years knowing all the right answers about everything, convincing everyone I was all good. But at no point did I know what I believed. I knew answers, but not reality. I knew cognitive truth, but not experiential truth. I was an internal mess. I knew right and wrong. I knew Jesus and His saving work. I knew my need for a savior and grace. But I didn't believe these things. I didn't know them like I know my wife or my children— real, experiential, proven. And so, after twenty years as a Christian, sin took over my heart and then my life. It nearly cost me my marriage. It did cost me that job. I was broken. All because I knew answers about everything but didn't truly know what I believed. All because what I showed the world was “right” but inside me was a whole lot of wrong. It is only grace that has restored me.
Piper, Barnabas (2014-07-01). The Pastor's Kid: Finding Your Own Faith and Identity (pp. 66-67). David C. Cook.

The solution
The only solution is grace. Step back from all the religious frenzy and religious busyness and let the grace of God wash over you. Look at the cross and remind yourself, Jesus paid it all.

Remember that all your righteous deeds are as filthy rags before the Lord (Isaiah 64:6). There is nothing you can do to earn God's favor. You can't buy or earn that which is a gift.

Remember, people looks on the outward appearance (I Samuel 16:7). Never do anything to gain people's approval. God looks at the heart. Do everything for the glory of God.

Remember, we are called to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. We are not called to put religious activities ahead of love for God.

A Prayer
Lord, with your penetrating eyes of love and grace you see us from the inside out. We try to fool ourselves and we try to present an image of ourselves to others, yet fail to honor you. Have mercy on us for our religious hypocrisy. You see us as we really are; help us now to come clean and repent of all that is hidden and destructive. We turn to Christ, who alone is able to deliver us from a cold and indifferent heart. Amen.