Examine your heart. Why do you do the things you do?
The possible reasons seem limitless. Habit. Guilt. Personal expectations. The expectations of others. Fear. Love. Gratitude. A desire to please.
In the Old Testament, God set out specific sacrifices for His chosen people to offer and particular festivals for them to celebrate. Yet here, through the prophet Isaiah, God tells His people that He hates their offerings and He can’t stand their feasts.
The psalmist wrote of God, “I have no need of a bull from your stall or of goats from your pens, for every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills” (Psalm 5:9-10).
God’s people initially sacrificed the passover lamb because they feared God. They saw the plagues He brought on the Egyptians and they feared for the lives of their firstborn sons. Later, the Israelites continued to bring sacrifices and offerings out of obedience, love, and gratitude for all God had done.
Sadly, over time their actions became rote. The people still went through the motions, but they no longer feared God, loved Him, or desired to obey Him.
God didn’t ask the Israelites for sacrifices because He was hungry and needed to eat. Neither does God tell us to tithe to the church because He needs our money. Rather, God calls us to demonstrate our love and gratitude to Him through actions.
Isaiah’s words cross time to confront us or convict us. Allow the Holy Spirit inspect your motives.
Holy Spirit, show me where I am just going through the motions. I don’t want to bring you meaningless offerings. May my gifts of money and service come from pure motives of love and gratitude. Amen.
Go Deeper — Make a list of the “good” things you do. Include things like reading your Bible, going to church, giving to missions, or serving at a soup kitchen. Then pray over each one, asking the Holy Spirit to reveal your motives for doing them. Repent of any sin and ask for God’s cleansing. God will not despise a broken and contrite heart.
Photo Credit: Toa Heftiba