Are your prayers more of a formula of repetitious words from memory…often without paying attention to what you’re actually saying? Have they become just a fixed routine of the same prayers repeated over and over again? Congratulations, you have the gift of religious gab! But this isn’t how the Lord wants you to communicate with Him. It isn’t the quantity or intensity of your prayers that He desires. Rather, it’s the heart-felt, getting real before the Lord, quality He wants.
The Greek word here for “hate” doesn’t mean we must despise our family in order to follow Jesus. What it just means is that we love them less than we love God. It’s called being set apart. So to this, we are to separate ourselves “morally” from the world view and others that don’t have a personal relationship with Jesus. In Isaiah 52:11, God tells us to, “Come out from them (the world) and be separate.” To be set apart for Christ means that we have our priorities correct…God is first, our family is second, the world is third. For when you make God the most significant person in you life, you are less likely to allow compromise to creep in. And when God is your everything, you are much better equipped to love those around you more effectively.
When Jesus came to earth He made the greatest sacrifice of self-abnegation and self-denial possible. He humbled Himself and renounced His Divinity. In other words, Jesus went out of Himself in order to enter into fellowship with us. So why are we so against doing the work to enter into relationship with Him? We’d like Jesus to just save, change, and sanctify us without lifting a finger in the process. Or we’d rather bargain with Him first – (“You do this for me first God, and maybe then I’ll start working on myself.”) The bottom line is that we also must go out of ourselves in order to enter into a right relationship with God…and waiting around until He does all the work in our lives (that we need to be doing) will never happen.
The Amplified Bible pens the above Scripture this way, ” If you will turn (repent) and give heed to My reproof, behold, I (Wisdom) will pour out My Spirit upon you. I will make My words known to you.” This admonishment then is two-pronged. First, we must stop and agree with God we’re going down the wrong path. Now our stubborn carnal nature will usually reject this idea at first…that’s because nobody likes to be told they’re wrong! But it’s the second part of this Scripture that’s even more important. For if we do turn back to God, He promises not only a renewed relationship with Him, but an outpouring of His Spirit of Wisdom and Understanding…that we may know Him more intimately.
This verse implies… it’s not about us…and it’s not at all about our “righteous acts”. That’s because God’s infinite mercy and kindness towards us isn’t based on our works. It’s actually quite the opposite…for in Isaiah 64:6 it says, “…all our righteous acts are like filthy rags to God.” And if you think about it, we can’t even take any credit for the relationship we have with God…for without the Cross spanning that chasm between God and man, we’d be lost. No, all honor needs to go to God, the Creator and source of everything. All glory needs to be ascribed to Him… for He is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. (Exodus 34:6)
This verse is repeated several times in Judges…the Jews had no ruler, instead everyone did what they thought was right, just, and pleasing to them. But we know the definition of “doing as one sees fit” can mean a hundred things to a hundred people. So what we see here was a form of anarchy…a absence of governmental rule and authority in the country. And what we also see was growing confusion and disorder among God’s people.
Our relationship with God does not revolve around one spiritual experience we once had. Nor is it about second-hand stories we’ve heard about God. No, our journey with the Lord is an ever growing, ever changing personal relationship with our Heavenly Father…being renewed daily in mind, body, and spirit. Psalm 85:6 tells us, “Will You not revive us again, that Your people may rejoice in You?” Today that would be my prayer also…Revive us again, O Lord, for Your glory!