Only Going Through the Motions

by Pastor John Fredericksen

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Throughout much of the Old Testament, God’s people, the nation of Israel, had a very shallow, distant walk with the Lord. Even though given the unique privilege of having God’s written Word available, the Lord told the prophet Amos, “they have despised the law of the Lord, and have not kept His commandments” (Amos 2:4). This did not mean they completely ignored the Scriptures. In some cases, they simply neglected the Word. Often they only went through the motions of having it read to them without internalizing the truths of God and allowing it to change their daily lives. In other cases, after time in a distant, meaningless walk with the Lord, they completely abandoned the sacred Scriptures to worship false gods made by the hands of men.

Israel still had priests, but when God’s true prophets came with a message too close to home, they responded with words such as, “prophesy not again any more” (Amos 7:13). Resistance, even anger and violence, was a frequent response. Yet, in many cases, they still worshipped the Lord, but only in a halfhearted way that the Lord would simply not accept. Therefore, God’s message to them was, “I hate, I despise your feast days, and I will not smell in your solemn assemblies. Though ye offer Me burnt offerings…I will not accept them…Take thou away from Me the noise of thy songs; for I will not hear the melody of thy viols” (Amos 5:21-23). Even worship toward the Lord can be meaningless, or worthless, to the Lord. This is so when worship is offered with a cold heart, only going through the motions, and without seeking to be continually transformed into the person God wants His child to become (Rom. 12:1-2).

Why would the Lord not accept their worship? It boils down to the explanation recorded in both Isaiah and Matthew: “This people draweth nigh unto Me with their mouth, and honoureth Me with their lips; but their heart is far from Me” (Matt. 15:8; Isa. 29:13). Simply going through the motions of worshipping the Lord is not enough. He desires that we come to Him in sincerity, with biblical truth being paramount, allowing His Word to transform our lives, and desiring a daily walk that knows Him in a real, close, and meaningful way.

Believer, don’t settle for just going through the motions of worship. Come to the Lord with a genuine desire to know Him intimately, be “conformed to the image of his Son” (Rom. 8:29), and do His will. Then, and only then, will your worship of the Lord be truly pleasing to the One who gave His life for you.

To the Reader:

Some of our Two Minutes articles were written many years ago by Pastor C. R. Stam for publication in newspapers. When many of these articles were later compiled in book form, Pastor Stam wrote this word of explanation in the Preface:

"It should be borne in mind that the newspaper column, Two Minutes With the Bible, has now been published for many years, so that local, national and international events are discussed as if they occurred only recently. Rather than rewrite or date such articles, we have left them just as they were when first published. This, we felt, would add to the interest, especially since our readers understand that they first appeared as newspaper articles."

To this we would add that the same is true for the articles written by others that we continue to add, on a regular basis, to the Two Minutes library. We hope that you'll agree that while some of the references in these articles are dated, the spiritual truths taught therein are timeless.


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