Tuesday, July 9, 2024

God of the Heart

Am I doing this right? Does it count?

I hear this question frequently from earnest seekers who are trying to please God. Can I give my tithe to a ministry other than my church? Do I have to read the whole Bible every year? Which translation does God like? Should I be serving in more ministries? If I don't pray on my knees, does God hear me? 

Out of context, some of the questions seem silly. In context, of course, they are the cry of a heart just trying to please God, just trying to make sure they're getting this faith thing "right." 

Which means...those asking these questions are already halfway there. 

They are already halfway there because their heart is in the right place to even wonder if what they are doing is pleasing to God. If it's honoring Him. If it's faithful. If it's the right expression of their heart. If it's coming across the way they hope it's coming across. And that kind of heart is half the battle. 

Actually, it's most of the battle. 

Israel faced some of the same questions and struggles back in a time when the rules and regulations seemed exceptionally important. Back, we're talking, in the Old Testament. 

God had told His people from the Exodus onward that there were a few annual rituals they were supposed to observe. Passover. Feast of the Unleavened Bread. Feast of Tabernacles/Shelters. But for generations of Judges and less-than-faithful Kings, the people had not been celebrating these festivals. Until Hezekiah arrives, hears of a book in the Temple, is read its contents, and tells the people to come and celebrate. 

So, they come. They come from all over the region of God's people to celebrate a festival they were supposed to be keeping all along, a festival that had its own rules and regulations and rituals that were highly important to the proper keeping of the command. 

Hezekiah knew this. 

The people knew this. 

But their good King would not let that stop them. 

So he prayed a prayer - a prayer that I believe God absolutely heard and honored - asking God's blessing and forgiveness on those who came to the festival with the right heart, even if they had not had time or diligence to properly cleanse themselves to participate. In other words, He prayed for God to accept all the ritually dirty folk who showed up with hearts drawn to worship. 

That sounds like something our God would do. And, in fact, 2 Chronicles tells us that's exactly what He did - heard the prayer, accepted it, and accepted the people and their unclean worship. 

Am I doing this right? Does it count

Is your heart right?

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