Best of Daily Reflections: What Really Matters to God
I have no complaint about your sacrifices or the burnt offerings you constantly offer. But I do not need the bulls from your barns or the goats from your pens.
Every time I read Psalm 50, I am startled. In this psalm, God recognizes that the Israelites are properly offering the sacrifices God himself had required in the law. Yet he says that he doesn’t need these sacrifices. What God wants most of all from his people is not proper religious activity, but faithfulness in worship and true obedience: “But giving thanks is a sacrifice that truly honors me. If you keep to my path, I will reveal to you the salvation of God” (50:23).
Let’s face it. It’s easier to put on a good show of religiosity than to live a life of genuine gratitude and faithfulness to God. Though we Christians aren’t offering literal sacrifices, we often focus on doing all the “right things” that show others what fine Christians we are. Yet, in private, our lives can be far from God’s intentions for us. We can look great on Sunday morning. But how do we look on Monday evening when nobody’s watching . . . nobody except the Lord, of course.
Nothing in Psalm 50 suggests that we should stop gathering with God’s people for worship or singing the songs or praying the prayers. But it does challenge us to take a good look at our whole lives. Are we living each day for God and his purposes? Are we honoring him when we’re alone? in our daydreams? in our finances? in our secret ambitions? What really matters to God is not that we excel in religious activity, but that we offer our whole selves to him in every moment. As Jesus made clear, our highest calling is to love God with all that we are and to love our neighbors as ourselves . . . every moment of every day.
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: Are you ever tempted to put on a religious “show” for the sake of others? When? Are you living your life with a consistent awareness of what matters most to God?
PRAYER: O Lord, when I read Psalm 50, it’s as if I heard you say “Gotcha!” You know how hard I work to look good to others. I can put on a show of my religion. But what about my hidden thoughts? What about my daily living? Do I offer myself to you fully, consistently? You know the answer to this question.
Forgive me, Lord, for all the times I live as if you weren’t there or as if you didn’t matter. Forgive me for my shallowness and hypocrisy. Help me, by your Spirit, to live for you completely, giving you all that I am every moment. What matters most to you is all of me: heart, soul, mind, and strength. May I offer my whole self to you this day and every day ahead.
To you be all the glory! Amen.