9 And thou, Solomon my son, know thou the God of thy father, and serve him with a perfect heart and with a willing mind: for the Lord searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts: if thou seek him, he will be found of thee; but if thou forsake him, he will cast thee off for ever.
When I get overwhelmed with feelings of failing God, I look for “bottom line” scriptures – what God really wants from me. I read this and wondered what a “perfect” heart meant. So I looked it up in a commentary. But what I found was another interesting thought. Read below:
“Religion or piety has two distinct parts. The first is knowledge of God, the second is worship of God. David says, Know thou the God of thy father, and serve him with a perfect heart and a willing mind. God is made known by his works and word.”
Matthew Henry Commentary
Knowing God means knowing ABOUT Him as a Person in a way that only results from knowing Him AS a person, a close friend with whom you communicate and dialogue. This means finding time to be in His presence, connecting with Him spiritually and mentally. Unfortunately, just knowing Him through His Word isn’t enough – I know, because I’ve filled my mind with His Word before, but still wasn’t filled with His peace and joy. We have to have an active relationship with Him.
Next, we are to serve Him with a perfect heart and willing mind. What do those things mean, and what do they have to do with worship? What does it mean to serve Him?
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
In other translations, the end of the verse reads as intelligent service, spiritual service, the worship it is right for you to give Him, spiritual worship. Service/worship requires subordinating our desires (in body, mind and spirit) to God’s desires. We must sacrifice what we want so that His will is accomplished in us and others. Do you know what that is the definition for? Love.
Charity’s definition is “giving of yourself for the benefit of another.” In other words, we must love God with all our mind, soul and strength, resulting in us loving others and ourself. By loving Him, we say by our actions that God is worth more than we are. We ascribe worth to Him, and worth-ship is the origin of the word for worship. So sacrificially loving God and others is what it means to serve and worship Him.
What does it mean to serve with a perfect heart? The word perfect is also translated blameless. To be blameless is not a matter of perfect external actions, but faith-filled internal attitudes. In the New Testament, perfect means working toward the completion of a goal, which in this case is having faith in God. We never perfectly achieve it in this life, only in the next where we don’t have flesh and a carnal nature working against us. Therefore, a perfect heart believes that God IS, that He rewards those that diligently seek Him, that He keeps His promises, and His Word is true.
What is a willing mind? A mind which is open to be transformed and renewed so it will accept and act upon the attitudes and thoughts of Christ. (Romans 12:2)
John Wesley wrote a book called “A Plain Account Of Christian Perfection”. In it he resolves to dedicate all of his life, thoughts, words and actions to God. It was all or nothing for him – “every part of my life (not only some) must either be a sacrifice to God, or myself, that is, in effect, to the devil… I saw, that ‘simplicity of intention, and purity of affection,’ one design in all we speak or do” was the only way to please God, having “the mind which was in Christ,” and of “walking as Christ also walked.”
So all of our Christian life boils down to two things:
1) having an active personal dialog with God whereby we come to know Him progressively better as time goes by, becoming more like Him in thought and deed in the process, and
2) trustingly loving Him and others by sacrificing our own desires so His will is accomplished on the earth, and we and others are conformed into the image of Christ.
Remember, you are not expected to do these things without fault – but they are the goal after which you strive. When you feel like you are failing God, go back to the basics and just spend some time listening for Him. Reaffirm to Him your commitment to try to love Him more than yourself, a well as to sacrificially love someone else that day. That is all God asks of you.