An elderly woman’s two daughters dropped by one day to clean her home. Both made the house sparkle, but the first daughter left the impression that her work was a burden. The second was cheery and made her mother feel that her sacrifice was a joy. Both daughters did the same tasks, but the first seemed to do them out of duty alone. The second revealed that her labors were out of love for her mother.

Putting myself in the shoes of the elderly mother, I would be saddened by the daughter who made it evident that her work was a burden and be blessed by the one who cleaned with a smile on her face. Reflecting on this, I wonder: What’s my motivation to serve God and those He places in my life? Does He see me serving out of a sense of duty or out of love for Him?

In Isaiah 1, the Israelites were offering sacrifices to God as He’d commanded, and they were also keeping the Sabbath and festivals. But He said, “I am sick of your burnt offerings of rams” (Isaiah 1:11), “I want no more of your pious meetings” (Isaiah 1:13), and “I hate your new moon celebrations and your annual festivals” (Isaiah 1:14). Why? Because God knew the hearts of the people performing all those outwardly sparkling sacrifices—people whose hearts were far from Him. Their worship was a matter of tradition and ritual observance rather than heartfelt desire to love and honor Him.

Does God see our love for Him reflected in what we do? Consider why we pray, read the Bible, attend church, and give a portion of our income as a tithe. And as we allow God’s Word to search our hearts, may we repent and ask Him to help us do what’s right and for the right reason—out of love for the One who loves us so well.

NLT 365-day reading plan passage for today: Genesis 39:1-23