Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Proverbs 21:2-3 Just do it!

All a man’s ways seem right to him,
      but the LORD weighs the heart. 
To do what is right and just
      is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice. (Prov. 21:2-3 NIV 1984)

How easy it is for us to justify our behaviors and attitudes. When someone has hurt us, we think, and the world confirms, “I can never forgive that!” Or when falsely accused of something, we yearn to vindicate ourselves and argue our side of the issue publicly to anyone who will listen. “Certainly it’s okay for my fiance and me to sleep together - we’re getting married!” Every decision we make seems to us at the time as the best decision, even if we have not measured it against God’s Word. We will find a way to make it seem biblical! And to those around us, it may seem perfectly justifiable. Because they can’t see our hearts - and because they don’t know the heart of God.

But today’s first verse shows that the LORD, indeed, knows exactly our motivations - He compares what we do with what is in our hearts. There is no hiding our intentions! And the next verse adds that, no matter what we are looking like on the outside, the most important thing we are to do is what is right and just, with a heart to match! No amount of sacrifice to the LORD, whether in money or deeds, will cover a heart of darkness!

In 1 Samuel 15, Samuel, the prophet tells King Saul that the LORD is rejecting Saul - kicking him off the throne - because Saul did not obey the LORD. God had told Saul to completely destroy the Amalekites along with all they owned as judgment for their treatment of the Israelites when they were coming out of Egypt. Saul only partially obeyed, but spared the Amalekite king and plundered their wealth rather than destroying it. So God sent Samuel to fire Saul.

Saul begins to justify what he has done, insisting they took the plunder of the livestock in order to sacrifice it to “the LORD your God.” (1 Samuel 15:21) Note that he calls God “your God” not “my God.” Samuel is not about to allow Saul to justify disobedience:

“Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams.” (vs. 22)

So, going back to Proverbs 21:3, does obeying God mean following to the letter a list of religious rules? Is it about keeping the Ten Commandments in order to please God? Surely God expects us to do what is right and to be just in our dealings with others. Certainly that reflects the heart of God. But it is NOT about keeping a bunch of laws and adhering to a set of rules - for the Bible makes it clear that we cannot possibly keep the Law. If we could, Jesus would not have needed to die on the cross! So what ARE we to do???

Jesus was asked this very question. Note His answer:

Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?”   
Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” (John 6:28-29)

It’s a matter of believing that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life, and the only way to the Father. It’s about following Him as His disciples and allowing Him to change our hearts to look like His. And what is His heart like? Look at what He did while here on Earth. He went to the “least of these,” the sinners. He ate with tax collectors and prostitutes. He went out of His way to meet just one Samaritan woman who had nearly as many “husbands” as Elizabeth Taylor!* He touched and healed the needy, the outcasts, those who were considered “unclean” by the religious leaders.

So, we need to have His heart for the “least of these,” because the reality is that WE are the least! We are the needy and spiritually impoverished of this world. We were the desperate ones before He found us! The change He’s wrought in our hearts compels us to action.

Look around you - there are plenty of needy - just the kind of company He keeps! How can we do what is right and just today? I’ll be looking for an opportunity!  

*Note to anyone who happened to see the Women of Faith webcast last night:  I actually had written this prior to Lisa Harper using the exact same illustration!  :)

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