Half-Heartedness

FFF 9:4 (Apr 1963)

Half-Heartedness

Richard Burson

“Amaziah did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, but not with a perfect heart,” 2 Chronicles 25:2.

I suppose that, when you read this portion of the Word of God, you may have wondered what more could be asked of a man than simply “doing right.” Plainly this man Amaziah is said to have done right. Can more be asked than that a man do right?

This is the very point of difference between the genuine believer and the half-hearted unbeliever. Right here is the dividing of the ways. Amaziah did that which was right in the sight of the Lord BUT not with a perfect (or whole) heart. God is not interested in what we do so much as in what we are. God is not interested only in the end results: He is infinitely interested in how we achieved the results. Halfheartedness will never do. To be right in a lifeless, aimless, heartless way is to be dead wrong so far as God is concerned. To do right without the whole heart is marked by God as a serious blemish. Right actions in the sight of the Lord must be prompted by a love for the right. Here is where many fall into the same category as Amaziah.

Amaziah never had a sleepless night over his sins and failure. Amaziah was one of those shallow persons who conforms to the thing that is right never dreaming that principles must be involved with the heart. Amaziah is one of those people whose activities and ideas are hedged in by what another’s conscience dictates as being the right thing. Reading William Laws or Saint Augustine or Lancelot Andrewes brings into sharp focus the lack of depth of much that passes for Christianity today. I would call this shallow thing “Amaziah Christianity.” I like what Wm. MacDonald says in his little booklet, “True Discipleship”: “Prayer that costs nothing is worth nothing because it is the result of CHEAP Christianity.” There you have it. That is Amaziah Christianity. Cheap Amaziah Christianity. Have you ever read the heart searchings of Augustine in his Confessions? He plumbs the depths of his own heart and sin, and then in an ecstacy cries out: “Oh Thou, my tardy joy” and then adds so feelingly: “For Thy omnipotency is not far from us even when we are far from Thee.” Beloved, such are not the words of an Amaziah.

The moment Christian profession becomes a part-time avocation (or even pass-time) the very essence of Christianity has been lost. Christ becomes the sole passion of the believer or the compromise path of Amaziah is taken. We should note that Amaziah is not mentioned in the geneology of Matthew, chapter one. Many things he did were right, but his half-heartedness struck him from the list of worthies in our Lord’s geneology. The living God with whom we have to do ALWAYS looks beyond the activities to the heart. The heart is the very place where Amaziah failed. His heart was not full of the love of God. Listen to me: a great deal of what is done in the Name of Christ the Lord can be done without love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, meekness, temperance, goodness, faith. Beware of activities that ignore or belittle these virtues that are the fruit of the Holy Spirit of God. We could say that Amaziah was a man of great ideas and small heartedness. Amaziah’s heart never kept pace with his hands and feet. Amaziah was a man with an immature heart. God will have us be “all out” for Him or He will have none of our activities be they ever so right in themselves. Amaziah could have been wrong in many ways and have had a heart full of love for God, and he would have been a great man of God. Look at David. Look at Jacob.

The very name “Amaziah” teaches us a lesson when contrasted with his life. His name means “Jehovah is mighty” and yet when we read his history and see the battles he lost and the tragedy of his end, we must conclude that the Life the man lived denied the name he bore. My dear young people, live every moment to the hilt with awareness of the Name you bear.

One is reminded of the words of Bonehoeffer: “The way to misuse our possessions is to use them as an insurance against the morrow. By trying to insure for the next day we are only creating uncertainty today.” The person who has whole-heartedly committed all his possessions to God can say: “With Him I have lost all, and with Him I have found all.” This and nothing less than this is the wholeheartedness God wants from His people.

To an Amaziah, the words of the Lord, “If any man come after Me let him deny himself,” would not be acceptable. Occasionally people say to me, they have done nothing really bad. This is not enough in the sight of God. There must be positive right with a heart devoted to Him. A spiritual vacuum will not do. The whole heart must be in the pursuit of God and His righteousness. The whole life and every department of it must be entirely for God.

There must be a positive desire to serve Him and Him only. All the motives in the life must be brought to the cross of Christ, and there the world must be crucified to the believer. Then we will do what is right and have a heart perfect before God.

God preserve us from repeating the history of Amaziah.