Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Hidden motives

"you justify yourselves before men,
  but God knows your hearts"
Luke 16:15

The ark of God was being brought to David, in the city of Jerusalem.  And on the way there, the oxen who pulled it stumbled, and Uzzah put out his hand to steady the ark, and "took hold of it".  God struck him down, and he died there by the ark. 

This was always a verse that created more questions than answers in my head.  I used to wonder how God could be so cruel, when all Uzzah did was touch the ark, and only with the good intentions of steadying it.  {story in 2 Samuel 6}

I used to be bothered that when an angel came to Mary, telling her she would have a Son, and her response was, "How can this be?  I do not know man."  And when an angel came to Zacharius, telling him he would be the father of John the Baptist, his response was, "How can I know this?  I and my wife are old."   Both replied with almost identical questions, and apparent impediments to what the angel was predicting.  But Mary's response was met with a comforting explanation, and Zacharius' was met with punishment.  {story in Luke 1}

I used to be bothered by God's treatment of Saul.  God had hand-picked Saul to be king, albeit at the insistence of the Israelites.  And all Saul did wrong was make a burnt offering, disobeying Samuel's instructions to wait for him.  But he was afraid of the people losing their nerve.  It was just one incident of disobedience.  {story in 1 Samuel 13}

The difference?  God knew what was in their hearts.  While the circumstances seem to justify their words, or their actions, the condition of their hearts determined His response. 

~ Uzzah's death was not in response to his action, but his arrogance in disobeying.

~ Zacharius' punishment was not for his words, but for his attitude. 

~ Saul's punishment was not because he made an offering to God, but because He minimized the role of God's priest, Samuel.  Saul thought that he, as king, held all the cards.

Words, actions, thoughts, motives... The fact of the matter is, that I am a sinner.  So there's a fair chance that it's not just my deeds that are sinful, but my thoughts and intents, too. 

And what makes it even worse is that I can't even examine my own heart to see if it's sincere.  I need Him to do that.  Psalm 26:2 says, "Examine me, O Lord, and prove me; try my mind and my heart."

The accounts in the Bible are not given to me so that I have a reason to judge His decisions; it's to give me illustrations and examples from which I can learn.  I need to be less skeptical about His actions, and more about mine.

~ "Let us lift our hearts and hands to God in heaven" ~
Lamentations 3:41

No comments:

Post a Comment