Am I Earnest?

Am I Earnest? ‘And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.’ Hebrews 11:6 (NIV) He rewards those who earnestly seek him? The root origin of earnest implies a pledge and serious intent. This earnestness means I must oppose a casual or convenient faith. Now this doesn’t mean gritting my teeth and forcing myself to punch through life’s difficulty. It means a desire to be fully engaged, to joyfully participate. Getting to this place spiritually requires the assistance of my Lord in prayer and awareness of his desire to help me. Matthew 11:29-30 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

Ongoing Prayer the Path to Earnestness

1 Thessalonians  5:16-18 Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

The Lord delights in helping us. He delights when we ask for wisdom, joy, strength, guidance, and a spirit of earnestness.

Am I earnest? Am I earnestly seeking God? One of the great benefits of fasting is that I learn quickly if I am earnest or not, and I can use it to train and bend myself along with prayer in Him toward a more earnest approach to Him. Asking in prayer is most like begging. In prayer and fasting I learn the essence of my dependency upon God. In prayer, I will find the answer to am I earnest. However, I must exercise caution in practicing the spiritual discipline of fasting and make sure I remember that I discipline myself to bend my will to submit to God. Fasting for personal discipline sometime leads to pride.

The Opposite of Am I Earnest? Do I Love Convenience?

In contrast to an earnest mindset, when I have a casual or convenient religious mindset I do good when it feels good and meets my minimum religious obligation; I talk to people that I like; and I love when it’s convenient, fits my schedule, and doesn’t threaten my comfort. Love of the type Jesus demands opposes convenience. When I worship the god of convenience (the idol of this age), I am in a state where I view disciplined prayer, participatory worship, study, and fasting with distaste, dread, or weighty duty. In this state I live in sloth or laziness rejecting my Lord’s help.

Beware the Temptation of Convenience

This convenient religious attitude should horrify me because in it, I  ‘have a form of godliness but deny its power.’ (Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. – 2 Timothy 3:5 KJV). Worship of convenience leads to spiritual anorexia. And in this state of mind, what I view as worship provides little nourishment. Empty, meaningless, primarily entertaining “worship” provides little sustaining nourishment for my soul and no sustaining connection with God. My Sunday corporate, public worship ideally should integrate into a daily personal worship with God.

With a ‘feels right’ approach to God I can become like Saul who was disobedient but defended himself when confronted by Samuel, ‘but I did obey the Lord.’ Saul’s incomplete obedience cost him the throne. A convenient, incomplete faith can cost me joy, growth, and a fruitful relationship with God. A shallow faith does little to prepare me for the difficulties of life. Partial obedience is always disobedience.

So I must earnestly seek God. Call out to him in prayer. Read his Word. Discover need for Him in prayer and fasting. Christ doesn’t want me to be religious; he wants me to be in relationship with him. This relationship is participatory and experiential, not formulaic. I will experience his truth through obedience and by following his teachings; then I will know him and his teachings to be true. He will prompt me out of a state of sloth and into a sprit of earnestness if I ask.

Worship and Earnestness

Earnestness is not working for my salvation. Earnestness expresses my salvation. Worship expresses earnestness. Psalm 96:9 O worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness: fear before him, all the earth.

Worship encompasses all we do. Colossians 3:23-24 And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; 24 Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.

Being earnest means being fully engaged with life. Living earnestly means taking up my cross daily. What I may view as duty, in truth is joy. I just need to decide to pick it up. My Lord will bear the full weight. If I start to think or say “mine,” He will let me feel more of the weight to remind me to depend on Him. The choice to be earnest is the choice to fully trust Him in all things.

Originally published January 2013

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