I hate, I despise your religious festivals; your assemblies are a stench to me. Amos 5:21

We can’t assume our festivals and assemblies are a blessing to God. So often when we plan events we think that our preferences are the same as God’s. We think the songs we like, the style of meetings we prefer, the speakers we enjoy are the ones that will bless God. However, God is looking beyond the agenda to our heart attitude. What is our motivation? Are we simply choosing our favourites or do we truly desire to please God?

Our motivation isn’t something we often stop to think about. Why are we holding this meeting? What are we hoping to achieve? Who is our audience? The activity may have begun out of a desire to honour God but now we’ve been doing it for so long that we’ve forgotten its purpose, stopped evaluating its effectiveness and just go through the motions. Sometimes the fear of change, the fear of displeasing our predecessors or the fear of looking into our hearts stops us from challenging the status quo.

In Amos’ day, they could hardly wait for the spiritual activities to end so they could return to what was important to them. “When will the New Moon be over that we may sell grain, and the Sabbath be ended that we may market wheat?” (Amos 8:5).

These people went through the motions of participating but their hearts weren’t in it. They couldn’t wait for them to end so they could get back to making money. No wonder God hated their meetings. They were just an empty performance.

May our spiritual gatherings be times when we truly seek to connect with God.