Tag Archives: non denominational devotion

Religious Christians

Going to church. Praying. Fasting. Reading the Bible. Giving offerings. Community outreach. Teaching a church group. Raising our hands during worship. All of these are things we as Christians do, but is God pleased with you doing them? On the surface, you’re quick reply is, “Of course!” However, there are many times we do these things that God is not pleased with us. Cain gave God an offering, the Pharisee prayed, Saul sacrificed, and many others in the Bible did what God asked.

What makes the difference is our purpose behind these actions. Are we sacrificing our time and energy to do the Christian things because we think it’ll make God happy and He’ll look favorably on us? We live in a “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch your back” kind of world. When we let that thinking creep into our Christianity, we end up having the form of Christianity without the power of it. This is not pleasing to God.

In Isaiah 58:3, God lets us know what He thinks about these empty actions. “‘We have fasted before you!’ they say. ‘Why aren’t you impressed? We have been very hard on ourselves, and you don’t even notice it!’ “I will tell you why!” I respond. “It’s because you are fasting to please yourselves. Even while you fast, you keep oppressing your workers” (NLT). It all boils down to the motive behind our actions. Are we doing these things out of love for God or to get the praise of others? To me, the answer to that is the difference between being religious and being a Christian.

A Christian seeks to bring glory to God through their actions. A religious person seeks to bring glory to themselves. They may impress others, but they are not impressing God. He looks at our heart and motives. That’s why Able had a better sacrifice and the prayer of the tax collector was heard. Their hearts were right with God. They weren’t seeking to impress others. Rituals aren’t what gets you into Heaven. It’s a repentant heart that seeks to honor God in all they do.

When we have the right motive behind our actions, God says in verse 8, “Then your salvation will come like the dawn, and your wounds will quickly heal. Your godliness will lead you forward, and the glory of the LORD will protect you from behind.” We can do the right things for the wrong reasons and it will not please God. He doesn’t want us to be religious. He wants us to be like Him. We are changed from the inside out, not the outside in. If you find you’re being religious instead of godly, ask God to give you a change of heart today. You’ll find being a Christian is a lot more fun and rewarding than being religious.

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Faith’s Value

A while ago, there was a bank commercial where they had hidden cameras and walked up to people on a busy street. They opened a briefcase with $100,000 cash in it, handed it to them, asked them to watch it and said they’d be right back. One man sat down with the briefcase and put it under his legs. He appeared nervous as he looked both ways while clutching the briefcase. He was guarding it even though it wasn’t his. The commercial says, “We gave total strangers $100,000 and they didn’t take a dime.” Each one of them guarded what was given to them.

Paul essentially told Timothy the same thing about his faith. In I Timothy 6:20 Paul wrote, “Timothy, guard what God has entrusted to you.” His instruction to him and to us is that we are to guard our faith. We should treat it as a precious treasure that has been given to us. The Message says, “Guard it with your life.” Just like now, there were people who were easily distracted by the things of this world and wandered from the faith. They didn’t see their faith as being more valuable than anything the world has to offer, so Paul wanted to remind Timothy of its worth. 

In II Corinthians 4:7, Paul described our faith like this. He said, “We have this precious treasure, the Divine Light of the Gospel, in frail human vessels of earth. (AMP)” Our faith is valuable like a treasure. It is not common or ordinary, so why do we treat it as such? We must hold onto it, value it and cherish it the same way we would if we were holding onto something worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. When we see our faith as valuable, we do things that protect it. We stay away from temptations that would lead us away from it.

In order to truly value our faith, we have to look at what it cost. That’s why Paul was constantly reminding us in the New Testament of the work Jesus did on the cross. He also spoke of his suffering for it. While salvation is free to you and me, it cost Jesus everything. There’s something in us that devalues what costs us nothing. Paul warned Timothy to not look at faith that way, but to look at it as a valuable treasure worth protecting.

The value you assign to something determines how you treat it. That’s why you wear old clothes to do yard work in. They have little value and you treat them as such. You would never wear your best clothes to do hard work in. You value them too much. The same is true with faith. The less you value it, the less you use it or have a resolve to live up to its demands. On the other side of that, the more you value it, the more you’re willing to sacrifice for God. How much do you value your faith? You just have to look at how you live in order to answer that question.


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