One of my favorite scenes in scripture is the selection of David as King. Think about it: Samuel comes to Jesse’s house, inspect 7 brothers, each of whom “looks” worthy to be king, and the one he’s looking for isn’t even presented by his father. There’s more significance here, but for the purposes of this writing, we’re going to focus on God’s words to Samuel when he wants to make Jesse’s oldest son King:
But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. 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
It seems that Samuel, a man of God, judge, and prophet, was still swayed by outward appearances, but God was not.
I say all of this to ask: why do we think we can continue to fool God by “appearing” righteous? I’ve been told podiums are sacred. Communion tables are sacred. Songs are sacred. I’ve been told the order of service and the passing of the plate is sacred, and the order must be observed. Yet, as I look in Scripture, Jesus didn’t have a podium, communion table, pass a plate, nor have the order by which he conducted His services written down anywhere. I think often, to ease our conscious, we swap sacred for tradition, because a routine, how we’ve done things, and things like the aesthetics all make it easier for us to attend church without participating in the Church. We outsource our responsibilities and obligations to Jesus by pawning it off on “the church service” and ignore what scripture says we ought to be doing (even if we’re serving every Sunday, Wednesday, Friday and every other time the doors open). And, how often do we ignore what Scripture says: WE are the sacred objects, sanctified, set apart, and being built in to the New Temple as living stones.
Yet, in spite of all of these things, God is not fooled. Just as with Samuel, those many thousands of years ago, God is not fooled by outward appearance. God still looks at the heart. We can paint our faces, pretty up buildings, do all “the right things” according to modern standards, traditions and expectations, and still be wrong within our hearts. So seek God while He may yet be found. Examine your heart, your life, your integrity, and see if God is at the center. Judge yourself rightly by His word, and let the Holy Spirit do His work in changing you. Worship God in Spirit and Truth, with everything you are, and, as you continue to gather together with the saints, be reconciled to those with whom you have issue, act humbly in the sight of everyone, and use your gifts to build the Body of Christ, not blend in with it or brow beat it in to an image you think it ought to be. God sees in secret. He knows the heart and can’t be fooled. So be pure and undefiled before Him.
“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.
“Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
The (Model) Lord’s Prayer
“And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
“And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Pray then like this:
“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
“And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
Lay Up Treasures in Heaven
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
“The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!
“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.
Do Not Be Anxious
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.