And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.
Hebrews 11:6 NLT
I remember the task of picking up sticks and rocks from our back yard at one of the houses that I grew up in. I guess that the idea was that by regularly picking up the sticks and pulling rocks out of the soil, that eventually we might end up turning the bare ground under the trees into something more hospitable for grass to grow. And there was a big difference between going out there and making a half effort (just picking up the larger fallen limbs and loose rocks) versus sincerely seeking out the rocks that needed to be pulled from the soil and getting up all the small twigs. This verse about faith, about pleasing God, and about reward reminds me of the important difference between seeking and sincerely seeking.
There have been Sunday morning church gatherings where I showed up, I smiled, I sang, I even thought and considered the “good advice” and “motivational message”, and I even enjoyed the experience — but because I let it be about me, it was only surface level, it was only going through the motions, it was “what we do on Sundays”. And this can be true for Sunday church services, daily devotionals, blessing our food, pretty much anything that just becomes empty tradition, religious practice, and habit. Amos chapters 5 and 6 should be a sobering reminder to us who have fallen into that trap. We should all be encouraged to read convicting passages such as those two chapters often enough for their weight to shake the ground of our complacency and remind us of our need to sincerely seek the Lord.
The question, beloved, is not whether we are seeking Him — because you are reading what could be considered a “religious text” right now. And if neither the author nor the reader of this are sincerely seeking God, then it is just religious activity with no real faith — and it is impossible for such things to please God. If that were the case, we should stop immediately and do no more harm with our hypocrisy. But I do have faith that He is at work, and I am confessing and repenting from those times I have not been sincere. And regardless of my own weaknesses and shortcomings and repeated failures, I am seeking Him sincerely because I cannot do this alone — He is my strength. Even if it feels slow and repetitive, even if I become distracted and find that I have slipped into surface level auto-pilot for a while — He turns even that into a reminder that I need to draw close again, sincerely. And I pray the same for you, beloved.
We are His beloved. He is our reward. People seek the reward that they truly want most. Will He be our truest desire today? Do we truly believe He is our greatest reward?
One of the greatest things that I can do for my wife is to desire her above all other women. One of the worst things that I can do is to desire someone else above her. My actions, my words, my thoughts with respect to my wife will be a reflection of what I believe about her in my heart.
And the same is true of God. Our faith, our belief about who He is — as either a burdensome religious obligation to be met — or as a treasured companion to seek sincerely and walk with daily — this is our opportunity to please God. And what a reward it is!
Is my heart on fire with a sincere desire for the Lord?
Lord, I have been guilty. I have forgotten at times my greatest reward. I have forgotten at times my first love. But I have seen that your love for me is what keeps me seeking you sincerely, and that seeking you sincerely is a wonderful reward in and of itself. Thank you for revealing yourself to me in this way. Thank you for your many mercies, and your undeserved grace and favor towards me. Thank you for reminding me that I am your beloved, and that you are mine. I’m eager to spend another day together, and eternity too. Amen.