HOW MUCH DOES GOD EXPECT FROM US?

Faith. Heart. Renewed Mind.

with everything else that we can give him.

Have you experienced this? – Writing an exam where you filled two pages as an answer to a question and felt very happy, but finally the teacher marked you less for the answer and made a comment, “you have written a different answer” or “your answer is not satisfactory”? In the same way, we might have answered certain questions in our lives by giving God offerings, alms and talents and felt very happy about it; yet in the end God is not fully pleased.

The answer, actually, lies in the question. If only we had paid more attention to the question, we would have answered it better and scored better marks. Similarly, if we pay attention to what God really desires of us and not just, what we feel like giving Him, we would really do well. God wants us to hit the bull’s-eye and not just the periphery! Offering, alms and talents are the periphery, whereas, faith, heart and a renewed mind are bull’s-eye.

So, the question is, how much does God expect from us?

  • MORE THAN MERE WORKS – HE DESIRES FAITH

“For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:20

In this verse, Jesus desires us to be righteous! We know that. We try to attain it on our own strength by giving to the church, by going to Jerusalem, by being baptized in River Jordan, by wearing white clothes, by removing all ornaments.

Our Christian walk should begin and end with faith!

Let me tell you, that’s the wrong answer! This is the righteousness of the Pharisees, which Jesus wants us to surpass. If we think we can please God or receive eternal life through all of this, we will not even enter heaven!

So, how can our righteousness surpass that of the Pharisees?

For the Pharisees, doing good works – like giving to the poor, giving offerings, teaching, and ministry was a full time job. For us, we have our own career. Unlike the 1st century, in this 21st century we have to have work, work and work to make our living. It is close to impossible for us to even match up to their good works. However, Jesus wants us to surpass their righteousness. What He wants is our righteousness to be based on faith and not on works. Our Christian walk should begin and end with faith! Many begin well but do not end well. We need faith to enter and continue in his Kingdom. Towards the end of his life, Paul says, ‘I have kept the faith’.

He expects us go to him ‘in faith’ for everything we need, so that we would use the privilege of prayer to receive all good things from Him. We should walk, sit and stand, not in our own strength, not in our wisdom, rather by trusting Jesus. This is important so that every human boasting is cancelled and it will all result only in praise, glory and thanksgiving to God.

It all starts with a mustard seed like faith, which is more than enough to move mountains in your life!

  • MORE THAN MERE WORDS OR LOOKS – HE DESIRES THE HEART

I’m sure most of us can testify about how during these COVID-19 times, we have learnt to cook new dishes and bake new stuff. Finally, after all the effort, we look at the sink and utensils have piled up (Husbands, hope you are helping your wives as you enjoy the new meal).  Nevertheless, after all the tiredness and enjoyment, we clean the vessels inside out. Do we only clean the outside and leave the inside dirty? No, we don’t! Yet, somehow, this is what we end up doing with our lives. Clean up on the outside, but leave the inside dirty.

God says, “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.” Mat 15:8-9

We can get so caught up in life and miss the main part. Miss what God really desires from us. We honor God with our words, worship God, follow certain teachings, but we are still not pleasing God. Simply because our hearts are far from Him.

Some of us who are born in Christian families know how to externalize our faith quite well but fail on internalizing it. We can like Christian posts on social media or write something very God-like, talk spiritual and wear good clothes (Saris, Suits, dresses) to church, and still have hearts that are not filled with God.

You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise. Psalms 51:16-17

We honor God with our words, worship God, follow certain teachings, but we are still not pleasing God. Simply because our hearts are far from Him.

David understood this. He earnestly took his heart to the Lord. He prayed seven times a day despite being a King! How much more do we need to pray, guard, and protect our hearts?

Can you offer your hearts to the Lord? Even as you are reading this, can you make a small prayer in your hearts? Praying, ‘Lord I have been bringing things to you, thinking that you would be pleased with it, but have kept the only thing that you desire the most, ‘my heart’ away from you. Today I give it to you completely as an offering. You fill it with yourself! Amen.’

  • MORE THAN MERELY KEEPING GOD AS THE LAST RESORT – HE DESIRES A RENEWED MIND

To play in the Indian Cricket team, one needs passion, good health, but most importantly, dedication! They need to give in hours and hours of practice, both on and off-season. You would not find a cricketer, who wants to play international cricket, resting during lockdown. Rather always beating their bodies down and strengthening their muscles, so that when the appointed time comes they are ready and prepared!

If we constantly renew our mind in His word, we will be able to test and approve his pleasing will for our lives. Until then, we will keep rejecting his will.

But, we on the other hand, fill our minds with junk from social media, wrong company, wrong relationships, wrong decisions and then when we get into a mess, we run to God for a breakthrough! Then, we wonder why God is silent and not responding, and go around asking people to pray for us and still nothing happens. It leaves us broken-hearted and hurt. We need to breakout of self-pity and realise that it was never his will.

We tend to do what we like and then try to grapple with God for his will. We cannot twist God’s arm or His word to accomplish our desire! No Shortcuts!

The Word of God says in Romans 12 : 2, ”Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

What we need to do, like a sportsperson, is allow God’s word to dwell in us both in and out of season. Let His word renew us. Stay in that secret place, like the larva that grows into a butterfly inside a cocoon. If we constantly renew our mind in His word, we will be able to test and approve his pleasing will for our lives. Until then, we will keep rejecting his will.

Take time to read your Bible, and you will be a changed man!

God wants us to hit the bull’s-eye and not just the periphery! Offering, alms and talents are the periphery, whereas, faith, heart and a renewed mind are bull’s-eye.

Is what we are offering to God and what He actually desires, the same?

We don’t mind giving God our offering, alms and talents. Yet, for God, there is something more precious – our faith, heart and a renewed mind. Can you offer these to God by not neglecting the former? This is how much God expects from us.

If we do this, then we won’t struggle in our giving, then we will be a pleasing living sacrifice to God. And, then we will be able to give more and more and not feel bad but blessed!

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