It's your heart that matters most
From 2 Chronicles: A 28-Day Devotional
Sometimes in our desperate ache to please God, we are like a young child seeking his teacher’s favor, but breaking the procedures of the classroom. The child, believing he is being helpful, takes it upon himself to throw out papers he thought were trash. He didn’t know those papers were the lesson plans for the day. The motivation of the child's heart was good, but his actions weren’t in line with his teacher’s expectations. The boy’s teacher overlooked his offense, and our God does the same for us by caring about the motivation of our hearts, not just what we do.
In 2 Chronicles 30, we find Israel in a similar situation. Israel dropped the ball in the Passover celebration during a time when the law was to be sacredly upheld. When it was time to celebrate, Hezekiah allowed two deviations from the law so all of Israel could observe Passover together. He delayed it by one month, and some people did not purify themselves.
“But Hezekiah prayed for them, saying, 'May the Lord, who is good, pardon everyone who sets their heart on seeking God'" (2 Chronicles 30:18).
The Lord heard Hezekiah and healed the people. In God’s eyes, faith and obedience always come before ritual. "For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).
How’s your heart? Is your motivation to please God, yourself, or someone else? Our hearts are easily led astray (Jeremiah 17:9). But as we read our Bibles, talk with God, and share life with other believers, we protect our hearts and keep our motivations pure. In guarding our hearts, we protect the motivations that drive us to do what we do and honor God with all our heart, soul, and mind.
- How does it feel to know that God is more interested in the state of our hearts than our outward actions?
- Does the idea of God seeing your heart bring you comfort or concern? Why?
- What is one practical step you can take today to guard your heart and keep your motivations pure?