Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Monday, 16 December 19:
Micah 6:6-8 – “’With what shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before God on high? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?’ He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”
We can make religion far too complicated doing all sorts of things God never asked of us rather than doing the simple things He did command. There are many Christians wearing themselves out today with religious activities which have not helped them learn to walk humbly with God. In fact, religious activities (and other acts of service) can be one of the primary issues detracting from a person’s intimacy with God day by day. In one study, for example, 83% of surveyed pastors said “busyness” was the top obstacle to spiritual growth.
Most Christians understand the need to avoid pointless activities or potentially harmful activities, but many fall into the trap of substituting “good deeds” for abiding in the Lord (see John 15). When we allow activity to detract from our prayer life, our Bible study, our solitude, and our personal relationships, we sacrifice the very intimacy with God which enables us to do anything of value for Him, and spiritually we wither – “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)
When we substitute service for intimacy, we can also become prideful and resentful as we learned from the story of Martha’s resentment of Mary –
– Luke 10:38-42 — Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”
Martha’s service became a hindrance to her relationships with Jesus and with her sister instead of a joyful gift of love to them. If your religious activities (or other activities) rob you of your intimacy with the Lord, your joy and your humility, return to the Lord’s feet and listen to Him and be refreshed by Him.
– Matthew 11:28-30 — Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 16 December 19: Make prayer your highest priority today, even if you have to give up some of the good things you had planned for the day.