Recently, I have been thinking and studying about the practice of devoting time to be alone with God (through prayer, meditation, and study) and I have been amazed (sadly) at the ease with which Christians “lightly esteem” God and His Word by failing to devote any significant time to the study of His Word. We come up with our reasonable sounding excuses (to us)…”Oh, I must first do such-and-such a chore; so-and-so needs my attention at this time; I can’t rise early because I work much and need my rest”…and our minds think in a manner that places ourselves and our needs at the center of our thoughts, instead of God. But, since when are we to place ourselves foremost in our minds? Since when has God been officially relegated to second place? Since when are we to rely on us to meet our needs?
We often deceive ourselves into thinking, for instance, we are placing God first in our lives just because we think we desire to honor Him by doing things like spending time in the study of His Word and prayer, or “desire” to meet the needs of our brother who needs help with a project, or “desire” to devote more time to the needs of our families. We think that desiring is enough, but God demands that we place Him first in everything, heart, mind, and deed. Anything less is dishonoring to Him.
Measuring our commitment to God by our desire alone is dangerous in-and-of-itself. If it is true that “the heart is above all deceitful” then it is folly to measure our “desire” only by our heart. We must also measure ourselves against the written word of God, and the Word of God is very clear on the issue, saying…”faith without works is dead” (James 2:20)…and…”it is by his deeds that a lad distinguishes himself (Proverbs 20:11).” Those commands present for us the absolute standard by which our devotion to God is measured; by our heart and our deeds…the internal and the external. So desire is a dangerous measure. No doubt some are sincere in their “desire”, but I doubt that most are. Usually we “desire” but don’t do the things we know we should but don’t want to.
God gives us all different tasks to do in life and some are called to do things that are seemingly more spiritual things then others, but that matters not. We are all called to different tasks. What matters is that we do our best and bloom where we are planted (give it the old college try, so to speak) and place God first in our life, doing what we can for His glory, as we can, when we can. This is what God asks of us.
If we truly desire to love and honor God (in our hearts) that desire will translate into good deeds (I Samuel 2:30). Placing God at the center of our heart and mind instead of ourselves should produce a radical change in our lives, an internal change that, if true, will be evidenced externally.
I could go on, but I am learning that shorter is better for blogging and this post is getting to be too long, so I had better wind things up.
I would encourage you to read Malachi 1:6-8, and verse 14 of the same chapter. The context is God speaking to Israel concerning their putting other things before Him, ultimately resulting in Israel offering defiled sacrifices on His altar, among other things. Frequently, the things we place ahead of God and the way in which we place them are more subtle and less terrible seeming then what we see in Malachi, but the result is still that our sacrifices are defiled and God is dishonored. “May it never be!” (Romans 6)
Please, never allow the pursuit of God to be less important than anything, even sleep if it comes to that. God will provide for us in ways that surpass our human understanding if only we honor Him as our Lord and Savior. Let us never forget the words of Matthew 6:33:
“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
May our sacrifices to God never be second best, but always true and pure.