“All a person’s ways seem pure to them, but motives are weighed by the Lord.” Proverbs 16:2
It’s that time of year again when people think about God and goodwill more than they do at any other time. It seems that the nearer we get to Christmas, the more we notice that people have a willingness to express an interest in religious things. Both church attendance and church activities increase.
But does this heightened religious activity alone honor the Lord? We must be careful that what takes place is not what happened to the people mentioned in Zechariah 7:9-10. Although they engaged in religious activities and fasted as their religion required, they were out to please only themselves. A vital element was missing — obedience to God.
Instead of their conducting empty rituals, God wanted them to show their obedience to Him by:
1. administering true justice
2. showing mercy and compassion
3. refusing to oppress widows, orphans, and the poor
4. not planning evil against others
We can best honor God during this special season by evaluating our own devotion to Him in light of these four commands to God’s people. Our Lord does not want empty, self-centered religious activities from us. He wants the gift of obedience expressed in acts of kindness and helpfulness for those less fortunate than we are. Let us not have the wrong reasons this season, and instead radiate joy from a heart in accordance with Him!