By Dan Hamilton
When you were a child in Sunday school, do you remember doing fun songs with motions? I recall some of the choruses required the girls to compete against the boys, where one group stood up and shouted out “Hallelujah” and the other “Praise ye the Lord.” Sometimes there were hand motions; with other choruses, the entire bodies of active participants moved and jerked to the rhythm of the music and the direction of the song. Smile if you remember, “And if the devil doesn’t like it, he can sit on a tack—ouch!” Kids would hop out of their seats in mock pain, agony, and shock. It wouldn’t be too unusual to hear the brave song leader shouting, “Don’t just go through the motions; pay attention to what you’re singing!”
Going Through the Motions
It seems to be easy to spot young children who are more interested in motions and competition than the meaning of the songs. It is not nearly so easy to spot some of our own inconsistencies in our walks with the Lord.
Somehow we develop a keen ability to fool others—and maybe even ourselves—into believing that our love and devotion to Jesus Christ is totally genuine. We become experts at Christian jargon, painted-on smiles, and the proper reactions to other Christians. The hidden motives and thoughts of our hearts are easily disguised from peers, but not God.
It’s All About the Heart
Jesus had plenty to say about good deeds, pure hearts, and living fruitful lives. He warned against hypocrisy, show-off religion, and practicing spiritual disciplines just to look good. “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them” (Matthew 7:15, 16).
In Zechariah’s day, the Lord desired true justice to be administered and for mercy and compassion to be practiced. The remnant of God’s people returning to Jerusalem were busy with the external building of the temple but not their internal hearts. We’re not so far removed from Israel and the Old Testament prophets. Christians have a greater responsibility to the Lord today. We are the temple of the Holy Spirit. Don’t just go through the motions. Pay attention to the Lord.
Dan and his wife, Karen, have two adult children and four fantastic grandchildren. They have ministered with the Croton Church of Christ near Columbus, Ohio, for over 30 years.