Yesterday, however, on the way to get ice cream, I got to thinking about my children, and how glad I am that (for the most part) they treat me with respect and are tenderhearted toward me, and even (for the most part) with each other. 365 days a year of love and respect for me and each other means far more to me than one day of special treatment. I'm no fool. I know it's a heck of a lot easier to put on a big deal once in a while than to be day in and day out loving, respectful, and reliable. I also know which behavior is representative of true, heartfelt love. Then I thought of my mother, of how hollow my Mothers' Day well wishes would be to her if for the rest of the year I neglected her and was unkind and disrespectful, which (for the most part) I am not. How empty it would be for me to neglect her all year and then show up on that day which society had imposed with a great spray of flowers and gifts and a flourish, to wish her well and say I love her. What good is that kind of love. Our love for someone is spoken in loud words, written in large letters, in the things we do and say every day. And so I don't feel robbed on Mothers' Day if it's not much different than every day.
So in the parking lot of an ice cream shop my mind turned to Hosea 6:6:
"For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings."And Isaiah 58:4a, 6-7:
"Behold, you fast only to quarrel and fight and to hit with a wicked fist.Fasting like yours this day will not make your voice to be heard on high...I felt as though I was given a peek into the heart of God. He is not interested in our shows. He wants us to love Him and our brethren from the heart. It is offensive to him when we offer him outward displays for the world to see, when in our hearts there is no true devotion or love. He is not fooled when we show up on, Easter and Christmas, feast days and sabbaths, but show him no honor or tender love for the rest of the year. When we bite and devour, hate and suspect our brothers and sisters in Christ, whom He purchased with His own blood, and make outward demonstrations of love toward Him, He is not impressed. He sees the truth. He knows how we really are. In truth if our "relationship" with God is charactarized by outward displays of devotion, but private disregard of him and the brethren we have reason to fear. "By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil; : whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother." 1 John 3:10
Is not this the fast this I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness,to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free,and to break every yoke?Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house;when you see the naked, to cover him,and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?"
The heart of a child of God is inclined to daily love and faithfulness which displays itself in private devotion and heartfelt love for, and commitment to, the brethren. The heart of a child of God recognizes its own unworthiness and truly understands what an undeserved act of grace it was and is that he is now called a child of God. The heart of a child of God feels compassion for other sinners, and recognizes that His brothers and sisters in God were likewise chosen, not for their own merits, but by the sovereign will of God - that Christ shed His blood for them - that they are precious to the heart of their dearly beloved Father. That is why the child of God loves not only God, but His children.
"But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law." Gal. 5:18-24
What mother would not be filled with satisfaction in a child who displayed such fruit? And so is our Father in heaven pleased.