The world is probably at the highest level of sickness it has ever seen, so it makes sense that there’s a consequent obsession (or non-obsession) with tracking bodily changes. There’s nothing people are not watching these days: weight, heart rate, number of steps per day… you name it. However, while we might care enough to monitor our physical heart rates, I’m afraid we’re not doing a good job with the spiritual heart monitor.
How often do we sincerely monitor the condition of our hearts? Do we even care? Aren’t we so busy living that we have no time for these internal checks? We wait for something awful to happen and then when we’ve all gone crazy and a volcano has erupted, we suspect something might be wrong in there. Some people don’t realize anything even after the fact, so they just continue going until their hearts flat line. The interesting thing about the spiritual heart is that your physical body can still be moving around, living from day to day as if you’re alive, while in reality, you’re dead. There are so many different things an ailing/dead heart produces, but today I want to focus on just one: dead works.
As believers, service to God is our nature; we have been crucified with Christ, so the lives we now live, we live for God (Galatians 2:20). If you believe in Jesus as the messiah only so you won’t go to hell, and you want to live for yourself, I don’t think you understand the family you’ve been adopted into – the Kingdom of God does not entertain lazy bums (see Matthew 25:14-30). We must get into the grind and live it up for God with everything within us.
However, here‘s what many believers are missing: God is not interested in any service that is not from the heart! God is not mechanical: He’s relational. God cares more about His relationship with you than He does about you completing tasks. If you asked someone to do something and they had a long face, made a lot of offensive noise while doing it, dragged their feet and banged the doors while moving around, just to show you that they HATE what you’ve asked them to do, but they are only doing it because they HAVE to, how would you respond? You may not care, if you are more concerned about the task being completed than your relationship, but if the relationship is more important to you, you definitely won’t feel that the completion of the the task has improved your relationship: rather, the manner in which it was done reveals a strain, or introduces one, in the relationship. (Image: Pinterest)
“Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.” – 2 Corinthians 9: 7-8 (ESV)
The scripture above is often quoted with regards to financial offerings, but it really is about everything. Everything we give to God should first and foremost be from the heart; if you miss this basic requirement, your service/offering is a waste. Don’t bother doing anything that is not from your heart, or you’ll be one of those who will watch their works go up in flames on the Day of the Lord, judgement day, when God tests everyone’s works. After working so hard on this side of eternity, you’ll find yourself walking into heaven without any rewards, everything gone and only your soul saved. How tragic. What kind of offering/service does God not want? The reluctant one, the one given or done under compulsion. If you do things because people demand them of you, lose the thought that there is some heavenly reward for you. You’ve already received your reward from the people who compelled you: perhaps you will be noted as the all-star doer who does everything that is demanded. If this reward is enough for you, then you’re all set, but don’t deceive yourself that God is taking it into account as something He will reward you for, if your heart is not leading the offering.
“To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices to Me [unless they are the offering of the heart]? says the Lord. … 13 Bring no more offerings of vanity (emptiness, falsity, vainglory, and futility); [your hollow offering of] incense is an abomination to Me; the New Moons and Sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot endure—[it is] iniquity and profanation, even the solemn meeting. 14 Your New Moon festivals and your [hypocritical] appointed feasts My soul hates. They are an oppressive burden to Me; I am weary of bearing them.” -Isaiah 1: 11a, 13-14 (AMPC)
When God says something is an “oppressive burden” to Him and He is actually “weary” of bearing it, you’ve got to sit up and take notice! He even calls it iniquity, which means it’s a sin; it’s a sin to give God an offering that is not from your heart! That’s hard to swallow, but it’s true. These people were running around DOING all the “do-ables,” giving offerings, making a multitude of sacrifices, going to all the church services and events, observing all the feasts, and yet God called these things an abomination! Are you starting to get a picture of how dead works actually hinder rather than build your relationship with God? Do you like hanging out with hollow and hypocritical people? Why do you think God would like it? Now, you may not have thought of yourself as hollow and hypocritical, but considering the above definition … (Image: Training 4 Cyclists)
God did not rebuke them for the service or offerings; we know obedience is better than sacrifice, but it doesn’t mean sacrifice is bad. 2 Corinthians 9:8 says God is able to make all grace abound to us so that we may abound in every good work! We just have to make sure that we’re sacrificing from our hearts and that we’ve obeyed what God has said first. We must guard the purity of our hearts and the integrity of our motivations jealously, while we work on upgrading our level of heart-service/offering. If God will not receive this offering, don’t offer it because of other people’s expectations. If you do, you’re offering it to man. And it means you have the fear of man. You’re more concerned about what people think than what God thinks. We will discuss the fear of man in greater detail later, but today, turn your heart monitor on and keep it on; it’s a matter of life and death.