WISDOM FOR LIVING DAILY DEVOTIONAL
APRIL 17, 2021
TOPIC: GOD WANTS YOUR HEART, NOT LIP SERVICE
BY T. O. BANSO
“Therefore the Lord said: ‘Inasmuch as these people draw near with their mouths and honor Me with their lips, but have removed their hearts far from Me, and their fear toward Me is taught by the commandment of men, therefore, behold, I will again do a marvelous work among this people, a marvelous work and a wonder; for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hidden” (Isaiah 29:13-14 New King James Version).
I tried to find out the origin of the phrase “lip service” and one source, quoting Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, says the source is the Bible. It quotes the words of Jesus in Matthew 15:8: “This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.” Please take note of the phrase “honoureh me with their lips.” In other words, there is a difference between honouring the Lord with our lips and honouring Him with our hearts. Jesus’ words were quoted from Isaiah 29:13.
Why did Jesus quote this scripture? In order to appreciate His words, it will be good to see the context. In Matthew 15, the scribes and Pharisees from Jerusalem came to Jesus and asked Him why His disciples transgressed the tradition of the elders by not washing their hands when they ate bread (verses 1-2).
Jesus answered by asking them why they also transgressed the commandment of God because of their tradition. He said God commanded one to honour father and mother and anyone who cursed his father or mother should be put to death. However, the scribes and Pharisees said that whoever told his father or mother that whatever profit he/she might have received from him was a gift to God, he needed not honor his father or mother.
Jesus said by saying this, the Scribes and Pharisees had made the commandment of God of no effect by their tradition. They promoted the tradition of the elders about God’s commandment. He called them hypocrites and quoted what the prophet Isaiah said. “Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying: ‘These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men’” (Matthew 15:7-9 New King James Version). Honouring God with the lips is vain worship. Mark 7:6 also records this prophecy of Isaiah, which Jesus quoted.
From the words of Jesus, we see that He rebuked those who claimed to be worshipping God but not from the hearts. Their hearts were far away from God but they honoured Him only with their mouths. This is what is called lip service in English – “Insincere expression of respect, loyalty, support, etc.” (Webster’s New World College Dictionary).
As we have seen, if it’s true that the source of the phrase lip service is the Bible, the dictionary meaning and what Jesus said are the same. To pay lip service is to be a hypocrite. A sincere person will be committed with his heart. His actions will not be different from his words. He will walk the talk. He will not worship God by words of mouth alone but demonstrate it by his life. He will not say he loves Jesus but will not live the contrary.
Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’” (Matthew 7:21-23 New King James Version).
God is not as much impressed by what we say as the state of our hearts. Relationship with God or walking with God is a matter of the heart and that’s the heart of the matter. Many can call Him Lord but their hearts are far away from Him. Hypocrites! They are only paying lip service to Him, no heart service. God is looking at the heart.
Lip service! As I said, Jesus quoted the prophet Isaiah to answer the Scribes and the Pharisees. This is what Isaiah 29:13-14 says: “Therefore the Lord said: ‘Inasmuch as these people draw near with their mouths and honor Me with their lips, but have removed their hearts far from Me, and their fear toward Me is taught by the commandment of men, therefore, behold, I will again do a marvelous work among this people, a marvelous work and a wonder; for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hidden’” (Isaiah 29:13-14 New King James Version).
The Amplified Bible says the nation of Israel “approaches [Me only] with their words and honors Me [only] with their lip service, but they remove their hearts far from Me, and their reverence for Me is a tradition that is learned by rote [without any regard for its meaning]” (Isaiah 29:13). Did you see the phrase lip service?
Hear what the LORD says to the wicked in Psalm 50:16-17: “Recite my laws no longer, and don’t pretend that you obey me. For you refuse my discipline and treat my laws like trash” (New Living Translation). Their hearts were not in the recitation. God hates lip service. Don’t pretend before God. Or better still, stop pretending.
God’s first concern is not how fluently or powerfully you can preach, how fervently you can pray, or the number of Bible verses you can quote. It is the state of your heart. Is your heart right with Him? Is it close to Him? Do you love Him with all your heart, soul, and mind? (Matthew 22:37; Mark 12:30; Luke 10:27). 1 Samuel 16:7 says the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.
God wants your heart, not lip service. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you; return to Him and He will return to you (James 4:8; Zephaniah 3:1-2; Zechariah 1:3; Malachi 3:7). Don’t let your heart be far from Him while your mouth talks a lot about Him. This is hypocrisy. Draw near to God in sincerity; return to Him. Don’t be like the nation of Judah that God said had not turned to Him with her whole heart, but in pretense (Jeremiah 3:10).
Psalm 78:34-36 says this of the Israelites: “When God began killing them, they finally sought him. They repented and took God seriously. Then they remembered that God was their rock, that God Most High was their redeemer. But all they gave him was lip service; they lied to him with their tongues” (New Living Translation). Did you see again the phrase lip service? Don’t give God lip service. If you’ve gone away from Him, return to Him sincerely. If you’re playing games with Him, stop it. Nothing is hidden from Him.
Lip service! Stop it. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship Him in spirit and truth (John 4:24). Psalm 145:18 says the LORD is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth. Give Him heart service, not lip service. “And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ” (Colossians 3:23-24 New King James Version).
God wants your obedience and devotion. He doesn’t want half-heartedness in worshipping Him. He hates pretence, insincerity, or hypocrisy. He is looking at your heart. He searches the heart (Jeremiah 17:10). He knows the heart of all men (Acts 1:24). Be sincere; don’t be a hypocrite. God wants your heart, not lip service.
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto you today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank you, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The Lord be with you.
PRAYER POINTS: Father, I repent of my lip service today; forgive me, Lord. I give my heart to you today. I shall no more play games with you; no more pretence or insincerity. Holy Spirit, help me to love God will all my heart, soul, and mind. Help me to draw nearer to God every day.
(For about 600 in-depth and powerful messages by T. O. Banso, visit www.cedarministry.org).
T. O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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