June 22, 2017 • Life for Leaders
The Lord says: “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught.”
In Isaiah 29, the Lord indicts his people for saying the right things while their hearts are far away from him. They profess faithfulness to God, but their desires are selfish and idolatrous. Rather than seeking God’s glory, they live for themselves. Their worship is “by the book,” but not “by heart.” They do the right things but don’t do them as a genuine act of self-offering to God.
It’s easy for us to fall into this same pit of hypocrisy, isn’t it? On the outside we look like “good Christians.” We attend worship services. We sing the songs. We teach Sunday School. We have Bible studies. We say things like “I’ll pray for you” and “Praise the Lord.” But on the inside our hearts can be miles and miles away from the Lord. We allow sin to dominate our consciousness. We dream about our own advancement rather than the progress of God’s kingdom. We honor God with our lips, but our hearts are far away from him.
The good news is that, through Christ, God is seeking us. He wants, not just our words and deeds, but our hearts. He desires relationship with us so that we might be transformed from the inside out. If our hearts are far away from the Lord, we can turn to him in repentance so that we might be forgiven and restored into his fellowship. Even when we have drifted away from God, he is near to us, beckoning us to come home to him.
It may be easy to accept God’s invitation when we’re at church or at home with our families or serving people in our community. It’s harder to have our hearts near to the Lord when we’re busy at work, poring over spreadsheets, trying to close a deal, managing our staff, building kitchen cabinets, composing a score for a commercial, or teaching a class of recalcitrant teenagers. Yet, even in such distracting settings, the Lord invites us to remain close to him, to enjoy his company and work by his grace.
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
Where is your heart today, really? How close are you to God?
Are you seeking the Lord each day? Are you living for his purposes?
Are you willing to be found by God as he seeks you today?
How might your work life be different if your heart remained close to the Lord?
Gracious God, you know me through and through. You know that in some ways my heart does belong to you. But in other ways I withhold my heart, focusing on myself. And, yes, there are times when I harden my heart against you because, in truth, I want to do that which dishonors you.
Forgive me, Lord, for my wandering heart. Cleanse me from all that draws me away from you. May I turn to you this day, so that I might be found by you and restored into intimate fellowship with you.
“O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness like a fetter,
Bind my wand’ring heart to Thee:
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, Lord, take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.” Amen.*
*Verse 3 of “Come, Thou Found of Every Blessing,” by Robert Robinson
Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online commentary: How Christians Can Experience Deeper Rest
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.