I've had several discussions lately with a few different people about God and the whole idea of heart vs actions. I have found that while many people believe that God looks at the heart a lot of people still live their lives as though they have to earn they way. I'll admit at times I fall into that same mind set.
The more I try to understand the dilemma of heart vs action the more I come to the realization that the heart being right is foremost but that actions coming from that heart are also important.
When I listen to people talk of church is recent past many share about a church that was so motivated about doing the right things, that they negated the heart and often pushed people away from the church because they were committing a select group of sins. The sad part is that while doing so, many of these people doing the pushing were also committing a different set of sins, but didn't deem them as such or were unwilling to acknowledge that they had struggles.
Since that church, there has also been a movement of people saying that your actions don't matter as long as your heart is right. While I see where they are coming from and I can certainly see how they can come to this conclusion, I think it leaves room for people to want to be different, but not truly be repentant.
As I was trying to figure out the best way to illustrate my thought, I had to go back to using an illustration of me and my kids.
A few years ago I was a youth pastor and found myself extremely busy. I was working a full time job, being a youth pastor, doing the necessary school work to remain a licensed pastor, and be a husband/father. I thought I was doing all the right things. I was providing for my family, doing what God had asked me to do, but I was negating my families greater needs.
I wanted to be a good dad. I wanted to be a good husband. I wanted to provide for my family I wanted to serve God. I wanted to do what He had called me to do.
It took some time, but I came to the realization that my first calling in life, behind loving God, is to lead and provide for my family. When I was able to do that, then anything else God may have asked me to do, would fall into place.
While my heart may have been in the right place while I was working 80+ hours a week, my actions didn't follow. My family suffered. My kids suffered. My wife suffered.
I believe God does look at the heart. I too however believe that God looks to see if we act upon our heart. While He does offer us grace, I believe He also wants to use accept that grace and live a life that reflects that rather than a life that says "let me keep doing what I was doing so God's grace can be shown more."