China Chiristian Daily

- June 29, 2017 -

Church

Deeds Mean Less Than Your Heart

By Elsie Hu
on June 06, 2017 00:06 AM

a-man-prays-to-god-in-a-gathering
A man prays to God in a gathering: (credit: CCD file photo)

Jesus told the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector in the Gospel of Luke. Logically, the Pharisee in the parable ought to be justified, but the opposite turned to be true. "The Pharisee prayed: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other people -- robbers, evildoers, adulterers -- or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.' But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, 'God, have mercy on me, a sinner.' " (Luke 18: 11-13) 

The Pharisee was very proud and had a self-righteous heart. He forgot his duty, and that the things didn't belong to him. Instead, he bragged about himself in front of God, flaunting himself.  Many times, our faith becomes proud and superficial like the Pharisee.

John 4:23 claims, "Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks." Reverend Li from Shandong states that worship refers to obeying God's commandments at any time in our life,  not just the things done in services and gatherings. "A believer who behaves and speaks properly in the church while disobeying God in his daily life does not really worship God."

Matthew 15:8 declares, "These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me." God values a person's heart - his inner situation and attitude toward God - more than his behavior. "Sometimes it's only a ritual for us to worship, praise and listen to pastors' sermons in the church. Do many people worship and offer themselves to God completely in their hearts following hymns when they are singing hymns and hearing sermons? Maybe not." Li says that God would rather hear the phrase, "I praise you," from his children who love Him wholeheartedly than thousands of Christians gather together to sing hymns and offer praise just as rituals. 

A humble heart pleases God more than superficial deeds, Reverend Wang from Shenyang said. Roman 12:1 says, "Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God-this is your true and proper worship."Why should we offer our bodies? The body represents the whole of us, including our spirit, soul and physical body. In other words, our mind, emotions and will. A living sacrifice means that we need to hand the sovereignty of our lives over to the hands of God. If we offer ourselves wholly as a living sacrifice, we should not conform to the former pattern but let God's will be accomplished in our lives. 

Wang adds, "No servant is greater than his master,  and no-one can serve two masters. You have to be single-minded in this aspect or that one." He points out that a phenomenon occurs in some churches where believers who can only serve part-time in the church for various problems in reality admire full-time church workers. Once determined to follow and love the Lord, they feel a debt and guilt for the Lord. They often pray, "Lord, I really owe You. I can't attend the service for I have to work overtime this week... Lord, have mercy on me."

On the other hand, those full-time workers who are proud in their hearts despite their behavioral service complain - "Lord, you and the believers owe me too much. Look at my family. I don't even have a good financial condition and can't afford school for  my children."

"This is the mind of the older son." Although they give their time and youth to the Lord and always stay with the Lord Jesus, they don't know the Lord's mind but hold that the Lord owes them much.  "Compare the first prayer with the second one; which one does the Lord favor? It is definitely the first one." The pastor said. Though these believers don't offer their full-time efforts to the Lord, he treasures the heart more than deeds.  

Translated by Karen Luo

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