You can only choose between one of two options, which would you choose?
A) Do the right thing most of the time with the wrong motives.
B) Do the wrong thing most of the time with the right motives.
Funnily enough, Israel often found themselves doing the wrong thing most of the time with the wrong motives. Like us, they had the greatest commandment at the forefront of their identity, "Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, and with all of your soul, and with all of your strength" (Deuteronomy 6:4). God was, and still is, primarily concerned with the inner moral character of a person and not the outward appearance.
When God told Samuel to make David king, He made his standards well known, "The Lord sees the heart." (1 Samuel 16:7). Yet, time and time again, God had to remind Israel of this foundational truth through trials and tribulations. For instance, during Israel's rebellion God said "They honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me" (Isaiah 29:13). Jeremiah recognized Israel's heart condition when he wrote, "You (Lord) are always on their lips but far from their hearts" (Jeremiah 12:2). Ezekiel said this of His fellow people, "My people come to you (Lord) as usual, sit before you, and hear your words; but they do not put them into practice. Although they express love with their mouths, their hearts pursue dishonest gain" (Ezekiel 33:31).
Fast forward 700 years and we find Isaiah's prophetic truth being applied to by Jesus to Israel, "Isaiah prophesied correctly about you hypocrites, as it is written: 'These people honor Me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me” (Mark 7:6).
God wants our hearts (motivation), not just our actions. He's wants His followers to be authentic in their walk with Him. This requires us to question and examine our motives (why we do it) behind our actions (what we do). I don't want to come to the Lord, sit before Him, and hear His words without putting them into practice. I don't want to say that I love God with my lips and all the while pursue dishonest gain. I want a pure heart and clean hands (Psalm 24:4).
On the other hand, what do you do if you're struggling with the right motives? What if you're heart isn't buying into it? Simply put, you position yourself under the waterfall of God's grace as you persistently follow Him. Eventually, your heart will catch up to your head.
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