Deuteronomy 11:16 – Take heed to yourselves, that your heart be not deceived, and ye turn aside, and serve other gods, and worship them. (KJV)
Matthew 24:4 – And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. (KJV)
Years ago when I was just a kid, my brother had a way of "getting to me". He'd sing a song just slightly under his breath, the words to which went like this:
- After the ball was over,
Mary took out her glass eye,
Put her false teeth in the water,
Hung up her wig to dry,
Put her peg leg in the corner,
Hung her tin ear on the wall.
There wasn't much left of poor M-a-r-eeeeeee
After the ball!
The tune is a rather catchy one, lilting towards a waltz. In those times when he chose merely to hum the tune, any uninformed soul within earshot would innocently think it a lovely gesture, save for me, for well I knew the words which went with it.
The tune and words are indelibly imprinted on my mind, but now I find it rather funny, and I don't know why it incensed me so much in my early years, but it did. Perhaps it was because I perceived him to be saying there wasn't any substance to me.
That lovely little song came to mind the other day and got me to wondering what would be left were we to apply it to our spiritual lives. The outward activities associated with our spiritual lives, church attendance, charitable activities, Bible reading, Bible study, and prayer, are all essential parts of the Christian life and walk, whereby we establish and strengthen our relationship with God. If we stripped them away, what inward motivation for doing all these things would be revealed? Are we doing them to enhance our outward Christian appearance, or are we doing them out of gratitude to God for our relationship with Him?
1 Samuel 16:7 – The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. (NIV)
Perhaps we need to do a little "sound check" every once in a while to make sure that what we are doing, we are doing with the right motivation. We are asked to take heed to ourselves, not to be deceived by anyone — including ourselves — that we not serve other gods, especially the "god of outward appearance".
Prayer: Our heavenly Father, we thank You for the many ways and opportunities we are offered to enrich our personal relationship with You. May we not ever use them for outward appearance or personal gain in our work and private lives. Keep us from becoming complacent and from falling into just a routine. May those of us living in democratic countries be forever grateful for the freedom to enhance our spiritual lives and to worship You openly in the churches and activities of our choice. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.