I wonder how often we can go through the motions of religion for our own benefit. We can go to church because it makes us feel better. We can pray because it makes us feel more at peace. I don’t deny that these can both be benefits of church and prayer respectively, but as we see in Zechariah 7, motivation is important.
Zec 7:4 Then came the word of the LORD of hosts unto me, saying,
Zec 7:5 Speak unto all the people of the land, and to the priests, saying, When ye fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh month, even those seventy years, did ye at all fast unto me, even to me?
Zec 7:6 And when ye did eat, and when ye did drink, did not ye eat for yourselves, and drink for yourselves?
Zec 7:7 Should ye not hear the words which the LORD hath cried by the former prophets, when Jerusalem was inhabited and in prosperity, and the cities thereof round about her, when men inhabited the south and the plain?
Earlier in the chapter, two men had been sent to ask the priests whether or not they need to continue observing the day when the Temple was destroyed by the Babylonians. Apparently, according to Jeremiah 3:12, this is a ceremony that the people were supposed to remember. It seems that now that the Temple was being rebuilt, some people wanted to get beyond this ceremony.
The response from God was to challenge the motivation of the people. He wanted to know why they had been doing the ceremonies in the first place. Had they truly been honoring God through the ceremonies, or had they only been doing it for themselves?
In fact, He broadens the discussion. Even in their everyday lives when they were eating and drinking, did they even do that for the glory of God?
That seems applicable. It makes me think about going through the motions. I think about this post I am writing for you now. Why am I writing it? Am I doing it for myself? Am I doing it as a kind of way to get people to think I am living a good life?
I am not perfect, but I try to avoid this kind of trap. I try to avoid falling into using the Bible and my writing about it as a vehicle for self-promotion. Rather, I try to first of all keep my focus on learning more about God as I go see this journey. Again, I try to write what I can so that I can share it with you.
Are my motives always perfect? I am sure they are not. Have I ever been perfect? I most surely have not. However, we don’t want to go through the motions like these people in Zechariah. We want to be the type of people who do what we do for the glory of God.