God looks at your heart not just actions
Moses wrote a historical narrative about the rebellion of the Israelites and their journey through the wilderness up to the Promised Land. He introduces Balaam, who appears to be a pagan prophet of the Lord. Balaam is sought after by Balak to curse the Israelites who were about to infringe on his territory. Balaam seeks The Lord and refuses to assist Balak until the Lord tells him to go. But the Lord gets angry at Balaam for going to Balak and interrupts his journey with an angel and making his donkey talk.
Scholars have debated why the Lord got angry with Balaam since he was doing what he was instructed to do. Some believe that the use of "wayyiḥar-ʾap ʾĕlōhîm" in this passage indicates that Balaam was in a state of rebellion against God since this phrase is used in other passages in that context (the rebellion of Aaron and Miriam against Moses for example). Balaam might have changed his heart on the way to see Balak from blessing the Israelites to cursing them for financial gain. If this is the case, then Balaam was being obedient but his heart was not in the right place. In fact, he would be looking forward to doing the opposite of what God originally commanded him to do.
God allows us to participate in His plans for the world. Through our submission to His will, we can cooperate with His Spirit and be used powerfully by Him. We have to be willing to submit to His will and die to our own. He will ask us to do things that are uncomfortable and contrary to our flesh. We can choose to comply or refuse. If we agree to do His will, we must remain in submission. Our hearts must be willing. Doing things begrudgingly or in the opposite spirit of what God called us to do is sinful and not pleasing to Him. Instead, we are to obey God in the spirit of fear, reverence, and love.
R. Dennis Cole, Numbers, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 2000), 389-90.
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