God is looking for the attitude in David’s heart. In the Book of Psalms (# 51) you encounter David’s prayer to God over his sinful behavior. David identifies in the 16th verse what God does NOT want: a “sacrifice” or “burnt offering”…which were, for his day, the only way to make proper recompense to God for one’s sinful actions. Instead, God declares David must have a humble and repentant heart (verse 17).
So let us personalize this.
God is not looking for blind service to a religious tradition. He is not looking for compliance to a set of rules. God is not judging our actions. Why? Because our outward, external actions, are the result of who we are on the inside; in our heart. Scripture teaches elsewhere God wipes our hearts clean, whiter than snow, when we repent and confess our sins.
We can only change outward behavior from the inside-out. It will come no other way. Picture a dirty cup. One can wash the outside of the cup with soap and water while never impacting the inside; it stays the same…dirty. But start by washing the inside of the cup and rest assured soap and water spills over the lip of the cup and flows down the sides washing the dirt away.
The attitude of the heart is what changes actions.
Our actions cannot change the heart.
God requires us to have a humble and repentant heart.
A humble and repentant attitude about our life.
Start there and see what happens.