But there are other times when the compliment is sincere. Keith learned early on when someone was saying, “Good lesson,” to be polite, and when it was really meant, and the latter were precious to him.
If we can know these things, why do we think God won’t? Why do we think we can go through the motions without going through the e-motions?
There they cry out, but he does not answer, because of the pride of evil men. Surely God does not hear an empty cry, nor does the Almighty regard it, Job 35:12-13. If the only time God hears from me is when I cannot fend for myself, why would He come to my aid then? If I expect help, I must offer something myself—like love, devotion, worship, and obedience. That’s why it is called a covenant—both parties agree to give something.
They utter mere words; with empty oaths they make covenants, Hos 10:4. Undoubtedly, the covenant Israel made with God fit this condemnation. Instead of loving God “with all their hearts,” they did what they thought necessary to get along with Him, imagining that outward rituals mattered more than sincere hearts. It has never been so with God, and never will be.
You cannot give God ritual obedience and think you have offered sincere worship. You cannot follow the Law to the letter and leave undone its “weightier matters” Matt 23:23. Israel tried it and God said, “I hate, I despise your feasts, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies. Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them…” Amos 5:21,22. Jesus echoed that comment when he said, “Go and learn what this means—I desire mercy and not sacrifice…” Matt 9:13.
God has always required sincerity and truth; He has always wanted those who “obey from the heart” Rom 6:17. He has always sought a people who will be His in more than name only. God knows when, “I enjoyed my dinner,” comes from a thankful heart and when it is just a courtesy.
When you pray tonight, will He recognize your words as sincere compliments, or just more formulaic nonsense meant only to salve a hypocritical conscience?” He knows the difference.
This day the Lord your God commands you to do these statutes and rules. You shall therefore be careful to do them with all your heart and with all your soul, Deut 26:16.