“Ask all the people of the land and the priests, ‘When you fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh months for the past seventy years, was it really for me that you fasted? ’” Zechariah 7:5

Is the spiritual activity we undertake really for God? It’s so easy to think we’re doing something for God when in fact we are doing it to make ourselves feel better—perhaps to impress others, to boost our self-esteem or enhance our image. We can look spiritual but what is our heart attitude? We can engage in all the right outward signs of being spiritual, much like the Pharisees in Jesus’ day (Matthew 23), but looks can be deceiving.

From time to time we need to ask ourselves exactly why we’re undertaking a spiritual discipline. Has it just become a mindless ritual, a meaningless tradition or something that’s expected of us because of the position we hold in a Christian organization? Is our heart still engaged and focused on God?

Philosophers have long debated whether it’s possible to do something truly altruistic, something which is for the benefit of another without any thought of gain for oneself. Yet even God doesn’t expect us to be completely selfless. The writer to the Hebrews tells us, “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him” (Hebrews 11:6).

Faith in God means that we believe that he not only exists but that there’s something in it for us because we believe that God will reward us as we earnestly seek him. This is why our spiritual activity needs to reflect our desire to seek God, not merely to impress others or even ourselves.