July 22, 2021
God Wants Your Heart, Not Just Your Obedience
The more I mature and learn, the more I realize how many mistakes I made as a child and young adult. Here is a short list: giving into peer pressure, lying, cutting corners, cheating, getting my value from others’ opinions, bullying weaker people, sexual sins, alcohol and drug use, car accidents, financial blunders, listening to my emotions, even committing aggravated assault. They all flowed from using my “Instruction Manual for Life According to Karl” to navigate each day. All that time I could have been applying God’s instruction manual, trusting Him to put together this contraption called “my life.”
I am so thankful for God’s amazing grace. It protected me from many consequences, which I thoroughly deserved but didn’t have to experience. Besides all that, He continually allows me to grow spiritually, to develop my relationship with Him, and minister to others. If you didn’t believe in miracles before, I hope you do now because my story fits into the miracle category.
One outcome of my history is that I really want to save my three girls from the misery and frustration I experienced. In my zealous, dogged instruction on decision-making skills, I sometimes forget the most important aspect and purpose: my girls and I really need and desire strong relationships with each other. Their greater need is for a dad who is loving, caring, and soothing. Unfortunately, all my criticism, judgment, correction, pushing, and demands for a higher standard sometimes get in the way. Even though they stemmed from good intentions, I regret the errors I’ve made in compromising our relationships for issues of lesser importance.
You see, without a good healthy relationship, all the educating and pushing I do to help my girls become the people God desires, will be largely wasted energy. Think about this: Jesus died for us first. Only then did it become possible for us to have a relationship with God. That personal relationship with God empowers and enlightens us to absorb His instruction and apply it. God never demands a certain level of obedience before deciding to have a relationship with us.
Satan wants us to think that God focuses on all our failures … that He is always measuring us based on our merits, our obedience, and our output. Many of my patients tell me that’s how they perceive God. Many churches paint God as the God of exacting standards, and teach that you have to be totally cleaned up for Him to accept you. Not so! As usual, the truth is the exact opposite of Satan’s brainwashing.
God wants your relationship above all things. Relating and enjoying God, spending time with Him, and growing in your relationship with Him should be the highest priority in your life. Then glorifying Him and following His profound and beneficial principles for life management will be our secondary priority allowing us to maintain a tidy, structured, obedient life guided by God’s instruction manual.
Today, determine why you attend church on Sundays. Is it out of obedience? Or is it to actually relate to God and grow your relationship with Him and other believers? It sounds like a simple question. Search your heart before you answer. Be brutally honest with yourself. Although your answer might disappoint you, it just might push you back on the right path. When your relationship with God is strong, the “obedience” … doing the right things in life … will quickly follow as you lovingly apply His instructions. Whether you choose to prioritize relationship over obedience, or you prioritize obedience over relationship is your decision, so choose well.
Oh Father, I declare to You, my Lord, that glorifying You is a much higher priority than maintaining order in my life. I know if I focus on You, I will have the appropriate order. While I make this commitment to You, I realize I do spend too much energy on keeping things under control. When I do this, I lose sight of You. I want my life to display the deep desire of my heart: to glorify You in carefree cheerfulness. I pray this in the name of the one who was able to relate to and then obey You perfectly, Jesus Christ – and all God’s children say, AMEN!
“Which commandment is the most important of all?” Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:28-31
But Martha was distracted with all her preparations; and she came up to Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me.” But the Lord answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:40-42