Going Through the Motions

“Going through the motions” is not how God wants us to worship and serve him.

“I hate, I despise your feasts, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies.”
Amos 5:21

“Fake it until you make it.” Maybe you’ve heard this advice before.

We all know of people who plaster a smile on their faces in situations where they would much rather be somewhere else. And after a while, they find that while they were faking it at the beginning, they realize that they actually do like being where they are!

However, you cannot fake the worship of God.

Let me clarify, you can fake-worship God but you won’t receive the benefits of such worship.

That’s the point of the prophet Amos in chapter 5.

This is the “bad news” concerning the “Last Day,” the “Day of the Lord,” or “Judgment Day.”

When Christ comes back as he promised, this is going to be a good day for some and a bad day for others.

For those who have saving faith in Jesus Christ, the Last Day is a good day to be looked forward to.

I think it’s like waiting for your dad to get home as a kid.

Most of the time you can’t wait for dad to get home. That’s because when he gets home from work it’ll be dinner time and then, if you have that kind of dad, play time, fun time, or game time.

But what if you’ve done something wrong or naughty that day? And your mother found out. She then set you down at the kitchen table, chewed you out, and then wagged her finger in your face and said those words that every kid dreads to hear, “Wait until your father gets home!”

The “Last Day” – the Second Coming of Christ – can cause either of those feelings depending on the heart of the person.

If you have faith in Christ, it’s the former.

But for those who do not believe in Jesus as Lord and Savior, the Last Day is just that, the last day that grace would be offered. It is the last chance to stop rejecting salvation.

There are several Bible passages that depict the Last Day as a day to dread. There are others that depict it as a day to look forward to. It is the same day. What is different is the heart of each person.

The prophecy of Amos – in chapter 5 – warns those who are faking their faith by “going through the motions” of worship.

Through this prophecy God is calling out those who carry out the different aspects of worship and sacrifice but in their hearts they reject God.

What’s in your heart? Do you go through the motions of worship – sit in the pew, stand when everyone else stands, fold your hands, even say the prayers and liturgy, but in your heart you despise being there and don’t really believe in God, not really?

This is where the Christian faith gets “messy.”

Going through the motions of worship and faith are not enough. In fact, they aren’t really anything. It is the faith in our hearts that’s of utmost importance.

In other words, it isn’t what you do that’s important, it’s what you believe.

The Holy Spirit brings saving faith to you through the Means of Grace – God’s Word and the Sacrament of Baptism. He strengthens the faith he creates in you through the Means of Grace – God’s Word and the Sacrament of Holy Communion.

Going through the motions of our faith isn’t evil, it isn’t wrong, and it shouldn’t be avoided.

However, God’s Word tells us that going through the motions of faith shouldn’t be relied upon for salvation.

Certainly, God wants us to pray, worship, gather together with others around the Word and Sacraments.

But God wants us to rely on him alone for salvation, not the things that we do.


Heavenly Father, help to rely on you alone for my salvation and not in the works that I do -even if those works are the motions of worship; in Jesus’ name. Amen.

© 2017 True Men Ministries

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