"Come and hear the message that has come from the LORD." Ezekiel 33:30
God said to the prophet Ezekiel: “My people come to you, as they usually do, and sit before you to listen to your words, but they do not put them into practice. With their mouths they express devotion, but their hearts are greedy for unjust gain” (Ezekiel 33:31).
Surely it is good to sit together in church to hear the Word of God. The hearers of the Word of God are distinguished from non-hearers – from those who turn away from God and refuse to hear what He has to say to them through His spokesmen.
It is likewise good when, with our tongues, we speak or sing the praises of God in His sanctuary. Many consider this “good” even when the performance is mechanical. They consider the mere doing of a thing a service to God.
What might be good – listening to the word with our ears and praising Him with our mouths – can turn out to be displeasing to God. Ezekiel was told the reason: The hearers do not put God’s Word into practice. They are, in the words of Saint James, hearers but not doers of the Word. Obedience is missing. Further, worship or devotion, even when expressed eloquently, is meaningless – is in fact hypocritical – when piety and sincerity are lacking. Hearts that should be full of faith are filled with greed leading to unjust gain.
What is “good” will indeed be good enough, will in fact be excellent and gratifying to God, when the love of Christ prompts our hearing and worshiping. Jesus Christ came to us as God’s great Prophet, and when He speaks the Word, our hearts are moved to receive that Word, believe it, and put it into practice. Our acts of devotion will be expressions of true faith and love, for they are prompted by our love for Him as our great High Priest, who offered Himself on the cross as the complete sacrifice for our sins.
So we say to our Lord: “Take my life and let it be consecrated, Lord, to Thee.” Take my ears to hear Your Word, my lips to praise You, my hands to do Your work, my feet to carry the Good News of salvation to the world. Then what is thought to be “good” will be good indeed.
PRAYER: O Holy Spirit, open my heart to the Gospel of Christ so that I may be both a hearer and doer of the word. Amen.
(Devotions from "With Jesus Every Day" copyright 1997, CPH. All Rights Reserved. No part of this publication may be printed, reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior written permission of Concordia Publishing House. Permission is granted for one-time emailing of this link to a friend. For information on other devotional material, please contact CPH at 800-325-3040 or visit CPH at www.cph.org.)