With faith, when you miss the middle part, you pretty much feel empty. Kind of like missing the pages in between the covers of a book, or an edible entree between appetizer and dessert at Applebees.
If faith is: Knowing God’s Word + Believing In God’s Word + Applying God’s Word… Then missing the middle “Believing In God’s Word”, would leave you with doing something you’re told, but either not understanding why or caring why.
This is legalism.
Legalism starts at a young age. How many times do we see a parent tell their kid to say they’re sorry, and the kid begrudgingly complies with a grumpy, “I’m sorry.” He doesn’t mean it.
It’s the same with our faith when we know what God’s Word tells us to do and we do it, but we don’t really believe in it, or our heart is not in it. We’re like that little kid who doesn’t really mean it. Now, when we think of legalists we typically think of the Pharisees in the Bible.
In modern times we think of legalistic Christians as those who listen to crappy music and only watch Kirk Cameron movies.
But we live legalistic lives all the time. How many times have we gone to church out of habit? Not cause we want to, but just cause we’re supposed to? Or maybe we’ve done our devotionals just because it’s a certain time of day. Or said a routine prayer before eating a meal? Or maybe said “Hi” to that weird person at church not because you are showing love, but because you somehow feel obligated to despite the fear that they’re going to drone on about how blessed they were when they watched that Kirk Cameron fireman movie.
Anytime we ‘do’ what’s right, but our heart isn’t in it – isn’t faith. So what do we do now? The quickest way to figure out if you’re doing something just because you’re supposed to or just out of habit is to ask, “Why?” Why am I doing this? What is my motive? You somehow have to tie your actions with proper motive.
For example, “I am watching my diet because I want to look good,” verses “I am watching my diet because I want to be an effective minister for God for a long time.” “I am going to work so I can pay the bills,” verses, “I am going to work to minister to my co-workers and also so I can take care of the family I am responsible to God for.” You somehow have to tie your actions with glorifying God. First worry about the inside, your heart, your motive then you’ll be well on your way acting in proper faith.
MT 23:23 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices–mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law–justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.  You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel. MT 23:25 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.  Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean. MT 23:27 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean.  In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.
Take Time To Pray: Pray for your heart to be right when trying to do God’s Will.