Is it possible to do the right thing but do it in the wrong way?
No one would doubt that. Many a valid steps have been made for invalid reasons. Doing the right thing in the wrong way could actually be the wrong thing. Sinful motivations can cloud our actions.
What about the motivation of joy? What if you did the right thing but you were lacking the proper delight when you did it? In one sense, I have trained my mind that doing the right thing even when you don’t feel like it is the highest level of commitment. In another sense, I am challenged about the importance of joy in our obedience.
Which is more important: accepting proper duty or achieving proper delight?
Should You Give Flowers to Your Wife Out of Duty?
What if my wife told me that it meant a lot to her when I gave her flowers. As a guy, I can respond that it’s the heart that counts, and money and flowers don’t really prove anything, but despite my best efforts, she says flowers mean a lot to her. So, what is more important – my principles or her flowers?
If I cave in and give her what she wants but don’t do it with a sincere heart, it sounds something like this: “Here. I bought you these flowers because you said that’s what you wanted.”
If she seemed discouraged by such a lackluster effort at her happiness, most of us would understand. That offering of love sounds like a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal (1 Cor. 13:1). In fact, she might say she didn’t even want the flowers from such an attitude. She would disregard the gift due to my detached feelings associated with it.
But what if I bought her flowers with joy and excitement? What if I gleefully went down the row trying to select her favorite colors and arrange them in a bouquet that would thrill her heart? What if I could barely contain the joy on my face as I checked out because I can imagine her face when she sees the expensive arrangement? As I approach the door, I try to hide them behind my back so I can surprise her.
I can barely contain my feelings because I can’t wait to see how it will make her feel.
My joy is wrapped up in her joy.
Should You Give Obedience to God Out of Duty?
I can imagine I know which scenario my wife would rather choose. And I can imagine that is the same scenario that God would choose as well.
I have been far too guilty in my life doing the right thing absent of the right emotion. I served God more out of duty than delight.
God once chastised his people not for doing the wrong thing, but for doing the right thing in the wrong way.
“Because you did not serve the LORD your God with joyfulness and gladness of heart, because of the abundance of all things, therefore you shall serve your enemies whom the LORD will send against you…” (Deut. 28:47-48).
Did you catch it? Their abundance in prosperity was stealing their joy in what should have been their one true delight. They were delighting in the gifts rather than the Giver, and while they were serving him, they neglected joy in the process. And for that, they were punished.
So, with God, which is more important: accepting proper duty or achieving proper delight?
I know you want to say both, but I am learning that having the delight is more important than the duty. Because if the delight is there, the duty will follow.
Is joy a feeling? Yes, and no. It is most definitely a feeling, but it is not dependent upon stuff. It is dependent upon truth. Is God the greatest delight in your life? If he is, then no offering to him could ever be a burden.
My joy should be wrapped up in his joy.