God finds no interest in creatures serving Him from a motive of mere servile duty and obligation.
“Moreover, all these curses shall come upon thee, and shall pursue thee, and overtake thee, till thou be destroyed; because thou hearkenedst not unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to keep His commandments and His statutes which He commanded thee: and they shall be upon thee for a sign and for a wonder, and upon thy seed for ever. Because thou servedst not the LORD thy God with joyfulness, and with gladness of heart, for the abundance of all things” (Deuteronomy 28:45-47).
Israel revealed its waywardness not only by their frequent disobedience, but also by “grit your teeth” acts of obedience that emanated not from a heart of grateful and joyous love. The law under which the Jews lived could not produce such heartfelt devotion, and was actually given to reveal Israel’s need for the grace that births the faithfulness of love.
“The law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith… Faith worketh by love” (Galatians 3:24; 5:6).
The law did not fill the heart, but rather exposed its emptiness. The grace and truth of the Lord Jesus grants to us a new heart, filled with His Spirit and His love. “The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given unto us” (Romans 5:5). Thus, the born again believer possesses the potential and the power to “love, with a pure heart fervently” (I Peter 1:22). We may not always do so, of course, and when we don’t, failure to avail ourselves of God’s grace always lies at the root of our neglect. The writer of Hebrews states plainly states this truth: “Let us have grace, that we may serve God acceptably, with reverence and godly fear” (Hebrews 12:28).
The Apostle Paul begins all his epistles to believers with a blessing of grace to those who have already received grace: “Grace to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 1:7). Why such apparent redundancy? Because believers require an ongoing experience of grace in order to fulfill an ongoing walk of faith and faithfulness. Only such bestowals and receptions stoke the fire that burns upon the hearth of our Christ-filled hearts. “Joyfulness” and “gladness of heart” ensue as we walk in this Divine dynamic of perpetual grace leading to persistent godliness of heart, soul, mind and strength.
“Grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”
(II Peter 3:18)