It would seem to be a contradiction of scripture, although we’ve been told all of our lives that all of scripture is is breathed by the Holy Spirit, and that it contains no errors.
But there are parts of scripture that we have trouble at times reconciling because they don’t seem to add up.
Take the man in the Old Testament who committed adultery and then committed murder to cover it up. He is considered to be a man after God’s own heart. Then take the some men in the New Testament who served God their whole lives. They literally had the entire scripture memorized. They spent countless hours day and night studying it, praying, fasting, tithing and serving in the temple. And yet Jesus called them white-washed tombs and said they were full of evil.
How is it that the man who committed sins worthy of being stoned to death is considered a man after God’s own heart, while those who dedicated their entire lives to studying His Word, prayer and service for Him be criticized and passed over?
It’s not what we do for God that matters as much as the fountain from whence it flows.
Why do we read the Bible?
Why do we pray?
Why do we fast?
Why do we tithe?
Why do we attend church?
Why do we memorize scripture?
If we do these things simply because it is what we do as Christians then we are no better than the Pharisees who were called “brood of vipers” and “filled with dead-man’s bones”.
God isn’t pleased with performance. Our fulfillment of His commands does not meet some needy place in His heart. He isn’t motivated to act on our behalf because we’ve been “good little Christians”. And our adherence to His word isn’t always proof of our level of maturity or dedication.
If this were so, then the examples in the Word would be reverse.
What pleases God is our desire for relationship with Him and our investment in it. When prayer, Bible reading, fasting, tithing, memorization of His Word and church attendance flow out of our growing and active relationship with Him he is pleased!
David wasn’t a man after God’s own heart because he was obedient, knew the scriptures, or could quote the prophets. He wasn’t perfect, he wasn’t even obedient. He was given to times of depression, his emotions were up and down, and he did some very terrible things. But God called him a man after His heart because David knew the importance of true repentance.
He understood what true repentance was because He had a deep, abiding relationship with God. He could feel the pain God felt, the joy God felt – and he felt it all very deeply.
When Nathan the prophet revealed to David the depth of the sin he committed, David fell on his face and repented with weeping and fasting for days. He realized how deeply He had offended God. He felt the depth of the grief God felt over his sin. He felt it to the depth that God felt it. And this was only possible because He already had a deep and abiding relationship with God.
God isn’t looking for your performance. He isn’t counting how many Sunday’s a month you attend church. He isn’t counting how many verses or chapters out of the Bible you read. He isn’t counting the number of minutes you pray each day. He doesn’t measure your dedication to Him by your track record as a Christian. He is looking for an abiding relationship with Him. Because if these things do not flow out of relationship, they are meaningless, religious performances that only stroke our egos, and measuring rods by which we compare our fellow brothers’ and sisters’ level of spirituality. Things which have no place in God’s Kingdom.
I am in awe that the Lord of all creation wants to be in relationship with me! But it’s true! He does. All we need do is reach out to Him. He has already come halfway, by His death on the cross. He is waiting for you to reach out and take His hand, and enter into an eternal relationship of grace, love mercy, and redemption.
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Rosilind, a Pacific Northwest native, is a missionary living in Croatia and married to her hero. Together they live in the country with their 2 active boys where she enjoys fruity candles and a hot cup of herbal tea on a blustery fall evening. She holds an Associates of Practical Theology and is passionate about discipling and encouraging women. Her passion for writing led her to author a number of books. She is the author of A Little R & R where she encourages women to find contentment in what God created them to be. She can also be found at these other places on a regular basis. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google +.
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