Value Works Over Words

When is God heard the clearest, in the stillness of a quiet moment each day or when the pews are packed each week?
When is God heard the clearest, in the stillness of a quiet moment each day or when the pews are packed each week?

Value Works Over Words

Guard your step when you go to the house of God. Better to draw near in obedience than to offer the sacrifice as fools do, for they are ignorant and do wrong. Do not be hasty to speak, and do not be impulsive to make a speech before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few. For dreams result from much work and a fool’s voice from many words. When you make a vow to God, don’t delay fulfilling it, because He does not delight in fools. Fulfill what you vow. Better that you do not vow than that you vow and not fulfill it. Do not let your mouth bring guilt on you, and do not say in the presence of the messenger that it was a mistake. Why should God be angry with your words and destroy the work of your hands? For many dreams bring futility, also many words. So,  fear God. Eccl 5:1-7 (HCSB)

Over many years I have observed people from the back of the sanctuary and stood up eyeing the faces of the congregation from the pulpit. Preachers and worship leaders know they can call for acclamation during a service, and without fail, an echo of hearty “amens” and “hallelujahs” come forth, as if on cue.

In spite of what most people who regularly attend church want to believe, many arrive each week carrying deeper, more personal motivations than to simply worship the Lord through joyous songs and words. They arrive each week sprinkled among the regulars who, week in and week out, return faithfully to the same pew out of habit, ownership etched in stone over the years. Among the regular attenders are those solely motivated by the social value. Each Sunday they are eager to exchange the latest tidbits of news with friends and family before and after they dutifully endure the actual worship service. And, then there are some so-called regulars who attend when their guilt stars them. They arrive hoping to hear a soothing message to mollify the nagging guilt they can’t seem to escape. Of course, also sprinkled about the sanctuary are those who thrive on the attention they receive from their emotional displays and outbursts during the service. They could find their way to the altar blindfolded. There is little doubt, church provides a truly interesting hodgepodge of people to study any given Sunday. I wonder what God thinks about it?

Of course, as the Teacher points out in the above passage, those person(s) in church who like the attention they receive hoisting their hands high at every opportunity and shouting enthusiastically whenever the preacher or worship leader cues the congregation, begs the question: What is their real motivation? Do they believe God is hard of hearing and only responsive to the most animated among his flock? Or, are these most enthusiastic attenders demonstrating how spiritual they want everyone else to believe they are?

Certainly, plenty of sincere God-fearing people fill the pews too, but there are surrounded by and impacted by the self-serving, self-focused folks in attendance, as well. But, I reckon God smiles at us all in our efforts to worship him each Sunday. However, as the Teacher reminds us: We all should be careful with our words when praising the God of creation because God tests our words by the evidence of our works. We are told, it is better to say nothing than offer empty, insincere promises and vows. God examines a person’s actions and attitudes over time, not just his emotional outbursts. Sincerity and integrity identify a person’s genuine relationship with God not his enthusiasm and verbosity. It is the person who seeks God’s will, ways, and wisdom who realizes his or her prayers and promises do not need to be publicly heralded. In fact, God listens best to a sincere and genuine heart and we are more likely to hear his whispered response in the stillness of our daily quiet time with God.

Do not be like the fool who offers empty promises just to sound holy. God is not impressed by our foolish exuberance and boisterousness in church, only our daily response to his spirit’s counsel as he offers to guide us.

Coach

Words of Wisdom #229-13EC

Are You Just Going Through the Motions?

WRONG-WORSHIP

Are You Just Going Through the Motions?

Hear the word of the Lord, you rulers of Sodom! Listen to the instruction of our God, you people of Gomorrah! “What are all your sacrifices to Me?” asks the Lord. “I have had enough of burnt offerings and rams and the fat of well-fed cattle; I have no desire for the blood of bulls, lambs, or male goats. When you come to appear before Me, who requires this from you [this] trampling of My courts? Stop bringing useless offerings. I despise [your] incense. New Moons and Sabbaths, and the calling of solemn assemblies I cannot stand iniquity with a festival. I hate your New Moons and prescribed festivals. They have become a burden to Me; I am tired of putting up with [them]. When you lift up your hands [in prayer], I will refuse to look at you; even if you offer countless prayers, I will not listen. Your hands are covered with blood.” Isaiah 1:10-15 (HCSB)

God will not be mocked! God seeks fidelity and sincerity in our worship and in all our relationships.

If we say we love and cherish someone, then our actions should testify to it. However, history has proven repeatedly that we (mankind) have tried to go through the motions to gain the benefits of a relationship without really committing to or investing in the relationship.

Why worship God if you are only committing or investing in your own needs? If you were God, how would you feel when it is clear our hearts and minds were focused solely upon being seen or heard. In our own family relationships, how would you feel if you expressed a sincere “I love you” to your son or daughter and in return all you got back was a contrived and almost rehearsed, “Yeah, I love you too! Can I have the car keys?”

Our lives can reveal a glorious, passionate relationship with God and others, or it can reveal a very lonely, self-centered, orchestrated and artificial existence. God provides us with many stories of the desolation that comes to lives pretending to be one of God’s chosen ones. They are the sad examples of those who gladly desire the benefits of God’s covenant protection and provision, but are more focused on the benefits rather than the relationship with God. They feel entitled to the benefits without investing in the relationship. If you were God how would you feel in such a relationship? Would you grow weary of such a one-sided arrangement?

God created us to be in relationships. Loners do not survive in this world without causing controversy, chaos or conflict. However, we are selfish by nature. However, God knows how we were created and shares His love unconditionally to demonstrate how to love others, as He loves us — but God also declares, genuine love only comes from making a choice. Love does not come naturally, but is necessary for our well-being. However, love cannot be contrived or rehearsed. It must come from within and not merely be an outward action to elicit a self-serving response.

Is your love relationship with God sincere or are you going through the motions? If you are sincere, you understand what God’s ways, God’s will, and God’s wisdom according to God’s Word is all about in your life. Worshiping God is not to be an outward action but an outpouring of love that comes from within our hearts, minds and souls.

Coach