Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Serving in Sincerity: Giving God Your Whole Heart

The smile means nothing without sincerity.” 
– Joshua Hamlet

When you know someone well enough, it’s not difficult to tell when they are forcing a smile in a given situation.

There are actually studies on this that focus on how to tell how genuine a smile actually is based on facial muscles.  Apparently a “true” smile involves the flexing of muscles near the eyes and the mouth while a fake smile flexes just one muscle in the mouth region.  The “Pan Am smile” is a term commonly given to faked or forced smiles usually used in customer service, named for the put-on smile employed by flight attendants when dealing with passengers.

Whether it’s a fake smile or an inauthentic tone of voice, people can’t stand it when others aren’t genuine.  We don’t like half-heartedness or insincerity

It should come as little surprise – seeing that we’re made in His image – to know that God doesn’t appreciate insincerity either, especially among His followers!

God desires sincerity and wholeheartedness in our service to Him.

God doesn’t want us to serve sincerity, but rather He wants us to serve in sincerity!  God desires our whole heart!

Joshua 24:14  Now therefore, fear the Lord, serve Him in sincerity and in truth, and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the River and in Egypt. Serve the Lord!

Psalm 9:1 I will praise You, O Lord, with my whole heart; I will tell of all Your marvelous works.

The Chinese philosopher Confucius is credited with the saying:

 “Sincerity and truth are the basis of every virtue.”

I think that there is a great deal of truth to that statement.  Any good that we seek to do must be done with a sincere heart – otherwise, can we actually call it good?

Remember: God Knows Us

We need to always remember that God knows us through and through.  God knows the true intentions of our heart.  While we may fool others into thinking that we are sincere in our service, God knows us better than anyone and can easily see through any facade that we might hide behind.

Psalm 44:21  Would not God search this out? For He knows the secrets of the heart.

We may think that we can hide something from God, but we only deceive ourselves.  Recall the account of Aninias and Sapphira, for example:

Acts 5:1-4  But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession. And he kept back part of the proceeds, his wife also being aware of it, and brought a certain part and laid it at the apostles’ feet. But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself? While it remained, was it not your own? And after it was sold, was it not in your own control? Why have you conceived this thing in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.”

The Danger of Hypocrisy

Hypocrisy is pretending to be what one isn’t.

When we go to worship the Lord, is it for real or is it just and hypocritical act that we engage in to impress others with how spiritual we are?

Jeremiah 3:10 “…And yet for all this her treacherous sister Judah has not turned to Me with her whole heart, but in pretense,” says the Lord.

We know that the Scribes and Pharisees were regularly rebuked by Jesus for putting on false righteousness.  Jesus rightly called them hypocrites for their insincere service.

Matthew 23:27-28  Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

Luke 16:15  And He said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is highly esteemed among men is an abomination in the sight of God..."

The Importance of Sincerity

We must understand that it is not enough to please God by merely “going through the motions”.  We must be sincere in our service, obeying from the heart.

Romans 6:17  But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered.

Ephesians 6:6  ...Not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart…

Colossians 3:22 Bondservants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh, not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but in sincerity of heart, fearing God.

We know that when we give we make an offering that we do so from the heart.

2 Corinthians 9:7  So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.

Likewise, worshiping without sincerity of the heart is worthless, to truly worship we must do so “in spirit and in truth."

John 4:24  God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.

We talk a lot about that verse, stressing the importance of the truth aspect.

Indeed, our doctrine is certainly important, but this verse can also apply to the true nature of our attitude toward worship!

Additionally, it is not enough to merely say that we love our neighbor, our love must be sincere!

Romans 12:9  Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good.

1 Timothy 1:5  Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith…

I worry sometimes that we allow being a Christian to become a sort of routine aspect of our lives rather than the primary focus of our life.  We go to church on Sundays because that’s what we’ve always done.  Perhaps abstaining from certain things (drunkenness, profanity) is easy for us because it’s merely against our nature to begin with, not necessarily because God’s commandments one way or the other.  So how can we tell if we are actually sincere toward God?

John 14:15  If you love Me, keep My commandments.

Do we say that we love God, yet not obey Him?  Do we ignore the commandments that we don’t like or are difficult for us to follow?  Do we say that we love God, but not spend much time in prayer?  Is it a chore for us to study our Bibles or attend worship services?

We know when someone truly loves us in the flesh because their actions reflect their words.  It’s no different with God.  If our actions are not congruent with what ought to be the conduct of a Christian, then perhaps we aren’t as sincere in our devotion as we would like to think.

1 John 3:18  My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.

The old saying “actions speak louder than words” rings true.  Time and time again, we are reminded that mere words are not enough.  Our love and devotion to God, to our neighbors should be evident based on our actions.

Do You Already Have Your Reward?

The attitude of the heart is what we need to actively monitor.   Before doing anything, we should be mindful of our motivations.  As with all things, self-control and discipline are key.

We must always remember that a Christian’s motivation should be seeking to glorify God alone, not himself.

Recall the Parable of the Tax Collector and the Pharisee…

Luke 18:9-10 Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector..."

First, notice how Jesus details the prayer of the Pharisee...

Luke 18:11-12  The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’

Elsewhere, Jesus described the deeds of other Pharisees…

Matthew 6:1-2, 5 Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men.  Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward;  And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.

Jesus points out the folly of those that do charitable deeds and publicly pray for selfish reasons.  Calling them hypocrites, He goes on to say that “they have their reward.”

Friends, if we already have our reward through the adoration of others, then that’s a serious problem!

Now take a moment to notice the difference between the Pharisee and the Tax Collector…

Luke 18:13-14  And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.

The tax collector was far more sincere in his dedication to God and – as Jesus points out – his service was pleasing to God!  Let us strive to be like the Tax Collector, not the Pharisee.  Let us have a wholehearted, sincere dedication in our service to God!

Unlike the Pharisee, we should be striving toward the ultimate reward, a home in heaven!

Proverbs 11:18 The wicked man does deceptive work, But he who sows righteousness will have a sure reward.

No comments:

Post a Comment