Nobody’s perfect, right? But what exactly does it mean to follow God with an imperfect heart? Perhaps choosing not to be an enemy, but maintaining a cool and indifferent attitude toward what is contrary to one’s beliefs and practices describes how we have become dulled to the voice of God. King Amaziah had this problem according to the record of his reign recorded in 2 Chronicles 25. Amaziah “did that which was right in the eyes of the Lord, but not with a loyal heart.” (v.2) He appeared to believe in God, was instrumental in keeping the temple service going, and commanded the Jewish people to practice Judaism in his kingdom; yet Amaziah embraced the foreign gods, lifted himself up in pride after God granted him victory over his enemies, and warred with Israel’s sister, Judah, against the will of God. It seems that Amaziah could not turn his back on the God of his fathers, yet he wanted what he wanted and swatted away divine contradiction to his heart’s desire.
Another king’s behaviors exemplify how even godly compassion can exist in a disloyal heart. (2 Kings 13:14) “Now Elisha had been suffering from the illness from which he died. Jehoash king of Israel went down to see him and wept over him.” A king who honored the great prophet, Elisha, honored him with tears, yet lacked faith in a big God who could bring victory in his life beyond his puny faith.
At some point we can become just as disloyal to God’s love and power as Amaziah and Jehoash. That point can be reached through sorrow, ambition, weariness, pride, and a host of other emotions or thinking errors. The result is behaviors that look more like the status quo than the peculiar, set-apart members of God’s kingdom we have been dubbed. For example, I’ve experienced going through the motions – speaking rightly, attending church weekly, and defending my faith during the day only to question myself in the late night hours when sleep refuses to come. My thoughts ruminate over things I said and whether or not I believe those words or if the spoken platitudes or argued point came from a pure heart of mercy instead of the uncertainty of my own fears of failure or my need to be right.
The saving grace that brings peace to my mind is the truth that I cling to in these times – the truth that God desires mercy more than sacrifice (Matthew 12:7 “If you had known what these words mean, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the innocent.”) That is, I do not have to condemn myself. Being imperfect in an age of grace saves us from the fall. Without this understanding, I would be lost.
Lord, thank You for Your gift of salvation that supersedes even my petty wanderings into complicating grace. Do not separate me from Your loyal love. Forgive me for my imperfect faith, for “unto Thee O Lord, do I lift up my soul.”