What pleases God? Are good intentions enough? Is sincerity all that God is looking for? Many people in society today mistake sincerity for reality. Many believe that if you are sincere, it doesn’t matter what you believe or how you behave. And although many sincere people have bought into this type of thinking, the reality is that many are also sincerely wrong. And we must be on guard against the idea that “sincerity alone” is all that matters in service and worship to God. Sincerity is vitally important only when it is mingled with obedience to God’s Word.
When one reads 1 Chronicles 13, it becomes apparent that God is concerned with more than sincerity alone. Surely David was sincere in his attempt to fetch the ark from Kirjath-jearim by putting it on a cart for transportation to Jerusalem. Was David sincere? Yes. Was he obedient? No. God had specifically told the Israelites that the ark was to be carried only on the shoulders of the priests (Exodus 25:12-15). Surely Uzza was sincere when he reached out his hand to steady the ark as it was beginning to slip off the cart. Was Uzza sincere? Yes. Was he obedient? No. This act was strictly forbidden by God. Numbers 4:15 says, “…they shall not touch any holy thing, lest they die.” Uzza made a split second decision to disregard God’s clear command in favor of what seemed right to him and the Bible states that God became angry with him and “…smote him, because he put his hand to the ark: and there he died before God” (1 Chronicles 13:10b). God was not pleased with the Israelites sincere worship and good intentions. God was pleased when the Israelites offered up worship and service in sincere obedience to God’s Word. Sincerity in worship or service must never be divorced from obedience to God’s Word. Sincerity and obedience to God’s Word must be married together.
In Amos 8, the nation of Israel is likened to a basket of summer fruit that was ripe, but not for long. Just as the ripeness of the fruit would be short, so the time was short for the people of Israel as God’s judgment would soon fall upon them. The people of Israel had disregarded the clear commandments of God. Therefore, God would send upon them a famine. However, this would not be a famine of bread and water. Rather it would be a famine of hearing the words of the Lord. Because they had pushed against God’s clear commands for so long, God would not even allow them to find it even if they sought it (v. 12).
We must to be “doers of the word, and not hearers only” (James 1:22). God desires more than sincerity. God desires sincere obedience. He desires His work to be done in His way! “…Otherwise our costliest services and our most imposing ceremonies will be only an idle show in His eyes” (J.R. Miller).