whyHave you ever honestly asked yourself why you go to church?

Or pray, or read the Bible, or give time and money to charity, or…?

There are many things that “good Christians” do.  Why?

There were many things “good Pharisees” did in Jesus day.  Two of them were washing their hands before they ate and tithing with garden herbs (Lk. 11:37-44).  Neither of these two practices were commanded by the law, but the Pharisees went above and beyond and so practiced them and commanded other pious Jews also to practice them.  Why?

The Pharisees’ motivations surely were varied, yet the text settles upon one big, fat, overarching reason: the sake of appearances.

The Pharisees were intent on grooming and maintaining an appearance of “piousness.”  Of “living the life.”  Of being good, religious, God-honoring Jews.  Even of being self-sacrificial and so desperately obedient to God as to wildly give of their possessions, time, and money beyond what the Law required.

Jesus saw through all of that.  And needless to say, He was not impressed by their “show.”

Jesus did not see their extravagent tithing and meticulous purity rituals.  What He saw was a heart fixated on greed and wickedness.  He rejected the pharisaical lifestyle.

Not because their actions were wrong.  But because their heart was wrong.  They had the wrong motivations and attitudes.  Their heart hollowed out their actions to the extent that all their pious works weren’t just meaningless, but wicked…actually unknowingly leading others away from true purity and cleanliness of heart (v.44).

So why do we do what we do?  There is always a reason.  One universal reason is because we’ve prioritized what we do high enough to actually get done.  We’re never too busy to do what we prioritize.  Period.  I can’t use the excuse to not do what God calls to do by saying, “I”m too busy.”

But why else?

We cannot just give flip and superficial answers.  If asked this same question to the Pharisees, they would have said, “To protect the Law and obey God in every circumstance.”  But Jesus knew that wasn’t the REAL reason.

If I honestly ask myself this question, the answers start to become a bit scary.  Sometimes I read the Bible because it is simply something that must get marked off my to-do list.  Sometimes I pray and tithe because I subtly believe that God will bless me as a result.  Sometimes I weed our community garden because somebody has to do it.

Or even deeper, how many of these things do I really do in order to improve other people’s opinion of me?  To make me look more “spiritual?”

But life, the Law, the moral code, “good Christian do’s and don’ts,” spiritual disciplines, work, play, are all there to help me grow nearer to God.  To shape my heart.  And I miss that if I am doing them for the wrong reasons.

I risk missing the point.  The entire point of life.  Of Christianity.

Here’s the crucial lesson: honestly discern your “whys” and then, no matter what is your initial “why,” ask God to use “what” you’re doing to fascilitate spiritual growth in your life.

“God, honestly too often I write this blog because it is a duty of mine, and if I can be smart or thoughtful enough, maybe others will think more highly of me.  I give that to you.  Shape my heart as I think and write…”