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08 July 2008

Going Through the Motions, Revisited

"Going through the motions -- bad when done for other people, good when obeying God." I've plugged that statement into a lot of different situations since last week, just to see how it holds up. Here's a scenario that addresses what I mean by "going through the motions:"

Let's say that you're going through a difficult and very frustrating situation. I mean, a really, really tough one. Let's pretend that, along the way, you start to deal with your own anger -- anger which you know will lead to sin -- and you realize at some point, "These are not Christ-like emotions that I'm having," so you pray, "Lord, please help me to rely on the Holy Spirit for guidance, strength, and peace."

Do you wait, out of your love for God, until a divine, peaceful euphoria overtakes you? If so, what do you do in the meantime?

Do you set your sights head-on against what your gut is telling you, making a conscious decision, out of your love for God, to follow Christ even when it's absolutely what you do not want to do?

I think the latter is usually the correct course of action.

Do you think that God will honor our conscious decision to obey Him even if everything within us was telling us that we didn't want to do it?

See what I'm saying? This is not the same type of situation as the one in which Jesus quoted from Isaiah, calling out the Pharisees who had set up the process of "going through the motions" as a sort of god:

And so the Lord says,
   "These people say they are mine.
They honor me with their lips,
   but their hearts are far from me.
And their worship of me
   is nothing but man-made rules learned by rote."
- Isaiah 29:13 (NLT)

This is why I believe it's critical for us to redefine the phrase "going through the motions," and consider the fact that it might be just what the Doctor ordered.


Leroy said...

From the other day, Craig McDole said...

""Going through the motions" to me brings to mind someone whose heart is not in it. God doesn't NEED what we give. He blesses what we give WILLINGLY, not grudgingly. He asks for us to be cheerful givers. God wants our hearts to be in what we are giving to Him. Not that we are doing it to be seen, out of guilt, or any of that."

I completely agree with what Mr. McDole has said. In addition to that Dean, I think you've shown us a scenario that when our heart really wants to sin, if we mentally (and physically) make ourselves obey and just go through the "Christian motions", our hearts will come around to where it should be.

It becomes mind over matter.

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