I was remembering back to when I was a young mom and a very young follower of Jesus. I wanted so much to do what I was supposed to do for the Lord. I would have my checklist out each day. Not everything on the list got checked everyday but that was my heart anyway.
I learned that I needed to have devotional time every day, prayer time, and I needed to be a good mom and love my husband well. I needed to be a good steward of my body, home, and whatever I owned.
I needed to know God’s Word and memorize it. I needed to tithe. I needed to look the part of a Christian and not let anyone see I had any problems, because once we are saved and born again we shouldn’t have problems, right?!
The Pharisees were famous for their checklists. They were right there to point out all the things they had done, and they were right there to point out every way others were falling short. They were even bold enough to test Jesus on the things He was doing.
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of robbery and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean also.” Matthew 23:25-26
I would read my bible when the kids were napping. When I finished, it came off the list. I would pray my prayer list and then check that off. I would do something that made me a good wife and mom, I would clean something, and that would get checked off, and the list went on.
This way of living the Christian life was all I had known. I was baffled and stuck about how to change this bondage built way of living.
One day, God spoke to my heart. He revealed to me that I was trying to receive and earn what He had already given to me. I needed to see His Word as life, not just as a rule book to follow, but God’s heart for His children and me. He showed me that prayer time is an intimate time with God. It is a time to seek Him and thank Him, not just time for supplication.
The things we do in obedience to God to please Him are not to be just for show, so others can see our good works, but to be done for God alone.
Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to His disciples, saying: “The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the chair of Moses; therefore all that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds; for they say things and do not do them. They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are unwilling to move them with so much as a finger. But they do all their deeds to be noticed by men; for they broaden their phylacteries and lengthen the tassels of their garments. They love the place of honor at banquets and the chief seats in the synagogues, and respectful greetings in the market places, and being called Rabbi by men. But do not be called Rabbi; for One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers. Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. Do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, Christ. But the greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted. Matthew 23:1-12
Are there things in this walk with Jesus, you have made into checklists?
Do you find yourself praying for what you need to but not sitting at Jesus’ feet?
Are you walking away from time with feeling empty instead of full?
Do you feel you area consistently trying to work at being a good Christian?
Do you walk away from God’s Word knowing more about God or knowing more of God’s heart?
For many of us this habit was formed from what we have learned about God along the way. God wants to renew our minds and transform our hearts today. He wants to break off those chains of performance-based living and He wants us to know His heart and He wants to have ours.
Let’s take some steps today towards changing our checklist ways to a lifestyle of walking with Jesus. We don’t walk alone. We walk together. How can we cheer each other on today? Let’s share with one another how are moving away from religion towards a relationship with Jesus.
Heavenly Father, we ask that you forgive us for making our relationship with you a checklist item. I know I can fall into the trap of doing that some days still. We pray You would renew our minds and transform our hearts in personal ways today. Help us to encourage each other to sit at Your feet and know You more. Thank You for Your love for us and for the ways You have shown Your heart to us. May we surrender our hearts fully to You. In Jesus Name, Amen!