It feels really good to check things off my to-do list. In fact, I’ve even been known to add things to my list after I’ve done them just so I can check them off.
I’ve come to learn, though, that lists don’t work for everything. While they’re good for cleaning my house, planning a party, or making a grocery store run, there are just some things in life you can’t “check off”—like growing closer to God.
Growing up as a pastor’s kid made list-conquering a pretty easy task. Go to church (check). Read my Bible (check). Go to Bible study (check). Pray (check). Go on mission trips (check). In fact, “looking spiritual” is really easy if you’re doing all the right things. People can think you’re a really godly person, after all, if you are doing things that they expect a godly person to do.
I’ve learned, though, that “looking spiritual” doesn’t really impress God. Did you catch that? It might be easy to make people at your church or in your family think that you are really in love with God because of what you do, but He knows your motivations and desires. He looks at your heart (1 Sam. 16:7). It’s even easy to fool yourself into thinking that if you do all the “right things,” you are okay with God. I’ve learned the hard way that actions that look right don’t always mean my heart is right with God. This is a lesson I’m still learning a lot about, but let me challenge you with some things that have helped me along the way:
- Check your motives. Before you undertake a task or after you mark something off your spiritual to-do list, check your heart and see if you did it to impress people. Ask God to convict you when you do things simply to impress others.
- Read the Word. There are so many great Christian books and websites out there, but make sure that reading the Bible takes first priority in your life. You have to be careful not to read it just to “check it off the list,” but to genuinely be changed by it and grow through it. Ask God to give you a greater desire to know His Word.
- Be accountable. As we’ve talked about many times before, it is critical that you have close friends who can hold you accountable in your Christian walk. You need people who you can be honest and vulnerable with about your struggles. These need to be people you can trust and who will tell you if they notice patterns of sin and inconsistency in your life.
- Remember you can’t make yourself godly. No matter how hard you try or how many good things you do, there is no way that you can make yourself more godly. It just won’t happen. We are told in Jeremiah 17:9 that our hearts are “desperately wicked.” So the starting point for growing to look more like Christ is to admit to God that you can’t do it on your own and that you need His help.
- Remind yourself of the gospel often. Apart from Christ, we are hopeless. It’s important to keep this in mind if you are going to have a proper perspective of yourself and the things you do.
So girls—the next time you pull out your spiritual “to-do” list, take a minute to stop and check your motives. Remember, God’s not looking at your list; He’s looking at your heart.