7 Minute Read

TODAY’S BIBLE READING:

1 Samuel 15:1–16:23
John 8:1-20
Psalm 110:1-7
Proverbs 15:8-10

TODAY’S BIBLE VERSE(S):

1 Samuel 15:22 (CSB): “Then Samuel said: Does the LORD take pleasure in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the LORD? Look: to obey is better than sacrifice, to pay attention is better than the fat of rams.”

1 Samuel 16:7 (CSB): “But the LORD said to Samuel, ‘Do not look at his appearance or his stature because I have rejected him. Humans do not see what the LORD sees, for humans see what is visible, but the LORD sees the heart.'”

Proverbs 15:8 (CSB): “The sacrifice of the wicked is detestable to the LORD, but the prayer of the upright is his delight.”

REFLECTIONS ON TODAY’S BIBLE VERSE(S):

We all know what it’s like to show up to church with a heart that is totally unprepared to worship.

  • Maybe we engaged in a family argument on the way to church.
  • Maybe there was some sin that was controlling our life … and we were letting it.
  • Maybe our hearts were just cold and indifferent to the things of God.

But, we may have gone through the motions anyway. We put on a smile, sang the songs, bowed our head during the prayer time, kept our eyes open during the preaching, and went home feeling like we did our duty.

However, our Audience of One wasn’t impressed. God observed and found what we did to be utterly distasteful. He saw our actions as sheer hypocrisy because our actions weren’t lining up with the true condition of our heart.

You see, God doesn’t look at our actions so much as He looks at the heart behind our actions. He made this clear in Matthew 6 when Jesus said that if His followers prayed like the Pharisees in order to be seen and admired by others, God wouldn’t reward them for that prayer (Matthew 6:5-6). Praying (a good thing) is displeasing to God if we do it for the wrong reason.

This is a MAJOR biblical principle so we had better get it down in our minds and hearts: God doesn’t look at our actions so much as He looks at the heart behind our actions.

And we see this in some of the verses that were in today’s Bible readings.

In this first verse, the prophet, Samuel, told King Saul that his supposed acts of worship (sacrificing burnt offerings) were of little value in God’s eyes. What God really cared about was whether or not Saul’s heart was bent toward obedience.

1 Samuel 15:22 (CSB): “Then Samuel said: Does the LORD take pleasure in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the LORD? Look: to obey is better than sacrifice, to pay attention is better than the fat of rams.”

From this previous verse, we realize that when we show up to church, sing the songs, pray the prayers, and listen during the preaching, we haven’t gained any “points” with God if our hearts haven’t been obedient. If we aren’t spending time with and obeying the Lord during the rest of the week, our acts of worship are simply hypocritical.

In the following verse, the prophet, Samuel, makes this principle as plain as day. God isn’t impressed with what everyone else sees when they look at us. God looks at who we really are in the hidden corners of our heart.

1 Samuel 16:7 (CSB): “But the LORD said to Samuel, ‘Do not look at his appearance or his stature because I have rejected him. Humans do not see what the LORD sees, for humans see what is visible, but the LORD sees the heart.'”

So, when we are at church and we are singing or praying, God isn’t necessarily listening to what’s coming out of our mouths. He’s listening to see what is coming from our hearts. If we are mindlessly singing the words or praying the prayers, He isn’t impressed. We are being hypocritical.

Now, let’s look at this final verse that appeared in our readings in Proverbs today.

Proverbs 15:8 (CSB): “The sacrifice of the wicked is detestable to the LORD, but the prayer of the upright is his delight.”

Sacrificing an animal was an Old Testament act of worship. But, God made it clear that He despised the acts of worship of those who were wicked. God was looking at the heart of those engaged in worship and if their hearts were far from Him, He found their acts of worship detestable.

But, God delighted (was happy) in the prayers of those who still struggled with sin but whose hearts craved to obey the Lord and love Him.

Friend, this theme runs throughout Scripture. God despises our acts of worship if our hearts aren’t right with Him.

Matthew 15:7-8 (CSB): “Hypocrites! Isaiah prophesied correctly about you when he said: ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.'”

2 Timothy 3:1-5 (CSB): “But know this: Hard times will come in the last days. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, proud, demeaning, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, without love for what is good, traitors, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to the form of godliness but denying its power. Avoid these people.”

Do you see how important it is to focus more on the condition of your heart than on your activity of worship? Your acts of worship should flow from the condition of a heart that delights to obey and love the Lord.

Since you now realize how serious it is to make sure your heart is right, what will you do today to begin to remedy this problem in your life?