I once listened to a sermon by the late Kenneth E. Hagin. He described a time in his life when he experienced lack. This was after the Lord called him to change ministries. He remembered struggling to meet his needs and those of his family. He prayed about this and asked God why his needs were not being met. God spoke to him and told him that he had done what he wanted him to do, but that he was not willing. What it meant was that although he obeyed, the attitude of his heart was still unwilling. He shared how he quickly changed his attitude and became both willing and obedient. He shared that his circumstances changed once his attitude changed.
This sermon helped me to realise, that we can do the right thing with the wrong attitude and mindset. I never thought that it mattered as much, how I felt about it, as long as I did the right thing. “For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7). God sees and knows both heart, will and emotions. This is why David said, that God would not despise the sacrifices of a broken spirit and a contrite heart (Psalm 51:17). We also see Jesus telling the father who brought his son to be healed, that all things are possible to them that believed. The father cried out in desperation, “I do believe, help my unbelief” (Mark 9:24).
The father said this because he knew enough to understand, that the state of his heart and mind mattered in that moment. Sometimes we also have to cry out to God, to help us to fix our will and emotions. Half submission is not submission and even if we do the right thing, having the wrong attitude can affect the outcome. Jonah ran away from God because he did not want to prophesy against Nineveh. It nearly cost him his life, but may be he understood the consequences of doing something half hearted. God rejected Cain’s sacrifice because his heart was not in it.
When your heart is at the right place, you have no choice but to give God your best. The state of our hearts matter in order to guard against anger, bitterness and resentment. These emotions give an entry point for the devil, who can find legal grounds on which to afflict us. We can remember the reprimand from our parents, when we walked away with a grumble. This was often because we were sent to do something that we did not want to do. Doing what God has asked you to do while grumbling and complaining will steal your joy and peace. Maintain an excellent spirit and trust in God to reward your obedience.