For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice,
the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings. Hosea 6:6 ESV
If I narrowed my marriage down to a check-list what kind of marriage would it be?
I said I do. Check.
I live with him. Check.
I take care of our kids. Check.
Marriage is a relationship. One we ought to intentionally build by continually getting to know each other better and better. A check-list does not make a relationship. I cannot love my husband well if I don’t know my husband. Nor can he love me well if he doesn’t know me. In fact the more he knows me – imperfections and all – the more amazing is his love for me. Marriage is a thousand little choices to love, cherish, value, and study each other every day we both live. Relegating marriage to a check-list may be comfortable, but it isn’t healthy.
Still I often narrow my greatest love relationship, my relationship with God, down to a check-list.
Read my Bible. Check.
Go to church on Sunday. Check.
Pray…at least at meals. Check.
This is a religious list. A list that requires me to go through certain motions, but does not necessarily engage my heart and mind. Don’t get me wrong. I need to read the Bible, pray, and be an integral part of a local body of believers to have a good relationship with God. But a religious check-list does not make a growing relationship with God any more than a marriage check-list makes a great marriage.
Often religious check-lists keep us comfortable in a detached indifferent relationship with God. It keeps us in the, “Yeah, God and I are good…” category. But God deserves to have us gushing about what who He is and what He has done for us. God doesn’t want our stale attempts at service, He wants our hearts. And that is where things get uncomfortable. When God has our hearts, He begins growing His fruit in our lives. And growing fruit is not for the comfortable. It requires God to pull the weeds of deeply rooted sin. He will use adversity to fertilize the soil of our lives. All so that we can rely on His power to to enable us to obey God, no matter how difficult it feels.
God uses religious activities to deepen our relationship with Him as long as we do not treat these activities as a check-list. Instead we ought to seek to know God well and the more we know Him the more we will love Him. As we love Him we want to obey Him no matter the price.
Father God it is easy to make my relationship with you into a check-list of do’s and do-not’s. Help me to engage my heart as I read Your word, pray, and serve Your church. May I long to know You well and love You well by obeying You no matter how difficult it is for me. Grow Your fruit in my life that You may receive glory and honor. In Jesus’ Name I pray, Amen.