1 Samuel 15:22 is one of those verses that helped me as I began my walk with God.
But Samuel replied:
“Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams."
This is the difference between knowing the path and taking the path. Head knowledge, rather than faith being actively lived out in a way that not only transforms you but also builds up others around you for the sake of God's kingdom.
Jesus said this against the Pharisees in Mark 7:6:
He replied, “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written:
“‘These people honour me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me".
We all wear masks and only reveal the things to others that we want them to see. We often live one way that looks like we have it all together, or we have the head knowledge. We know what we are supposed to do and, with our lips, we say the things that sound good whilst in our hearts we live the old life. We leave church with not godly thoughts but ones that are negative.
We need to be transformed within our hearts, God does not care about what outward actions or words of praise are made because we know we ought to, but He sees what is happening in our hearts.
1 Samuel 16:7
7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
We might be able to deceive others and ourselves but we cannot hide away from God. The things in our heart are what shapes us, it is what we desire and chase after. It is what we are committed to, it becomes what we give our time to and what we allow to prioritise our lives around.
God does not care about the doing, but would rather have you come to Him in obedience. So that your heart can be transformed as you discover not only who He is but who you are in Him. Then once that has been established, the way you live your life, the motivations behind your actions will be transformed from the things of this world to God's will.
The question I ask myself is who or what is in my heart? Do I find excuses not to spend time with God by saying I'm too busy or will do it later? On Sundays does my heart groan with the idea of getting out of bed and making the sacrificial action of going to church. Is being tired or grumpy the right reason for not coming to church?
If the answer is yes to those or I'd rather stay at home and watch t.v is a clear indication that my heart is not in the right place. I may know scripture, I may pray beautifully in Hebrew and Greek (I can't) but if my heart is not in it I'm not living it and I am in the danger of living as if I'm saved by works and not by faith.
As Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians, If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels but do not love, I am a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. Brothers if I feed one hungry person or a thousand and I did it out of duty or obedience to the law it is as if I did not do it at all. The motivation was not from a heart that was transformed by the Gospel and from a relationship with God but from my own achievements and what I think I ought to do.
I like to use the last verses in Psalm 139 as a way of meditation on God's will and repenting.
23 Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. 24 See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
I like to leave you with a reminder, there is a difference between knowing the path and walking it.
St Andrew's Church