Today's devotion from Psalm 78:35-72.
Continuing to move through the history of Israel's less than stellar relationship with God, we find within two verses the problem. First we read, "They remembered that God was their rock, the Most High God their redeemer." (Psalm 78:35, ESV) This sounds incredibly positive. Maybe the Israelites have come to their senses? Maybe they've reached the place where they are finally hearing what God has been trying to say?
The very next two verses read, "But they flattered him with their mouths; they lied to him with their tongues. Their heart was not steadfast toward him; they were not faithful to his covenant." (Psalm 78:36-37, ESV) What we begin to see is that the people really just wanted blessing, or the absence of punishment, but they really weren't that interested in God Himself. This is a recurring theme. Read the prophet Joel, and you will see that the people were very good about legalistically checking off boxes, but not very good about passionately following God.
We have to find a balance in our lives. We cannot just do the things God wants us to do without heart. We will fail in obedience if we do not love Him. However, the dangerous flip-side of this is that we can't be driven by emotions either. So, how do we do this? It begins when we realize that love is not some mystical emotion, but a conscious choice. We must choose to love God enough to follow Him. When this occurs, we will not just be doing the things we think He expects, but we will be choosing to be faithful. There is a big difference.
To act without love toward God is flattery and a lie. To be faithful in times of emotional drought is discipline. One is acceptable. The other is not. A professor of mine put it this way, "You can't always 'feel' your way to right action, but you can act your way to right feeling." We can't rely on emotions to lead us, but if we will be faithful and disciplined in our actions, then we will eventually get to experience those emotions again. If, on the other hand, we are simply going through the motions, we will never feel anything except frustration.