Then the Pharisees and Scribes asked Him, "Why do Your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashed hands?" He answered and said to them, "Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: 'This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. and in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.' "For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men--the washing of pitchers and cups, and many other such things you do." Mark 7:5-8
I was speaking with someone the other day who used to take part in Bible studies. Although she did not tell me exactly why she is not presently involved in a Bible study, she did share with me an observation that I knew was at the root of her issue. She commented that people act a certain way in church but a different way outside of it. Obviously, she was bothered by the Christian’s hypocritical behavior. Many of us look really good on the outside but are falling apart on the inside. In other words, we put on a good show. The problem is when we try to put on an act before the Lord. We honor Him with our lips but our hearts are far from Him. Jesus wants the truth of what is in our hearts, not how we portray ourselves on the outside. Clearly He sees the thoughts and intents of our hearts.
The Pharisees kept the law and man's traditions to the strictest of standards. Their hands were ceremonially cleansed before they touched any bread to eat. Even their utensils were cleansed with the same ceremony. The outside looked spotless to the point that they believed themselves to be more spiritual and pure than those who did not perform these rituals. The same is true for people in the church today. Many Christians work hard at being righteous and look the part to those around them, but God knows what is in their hearts. If our activities are whitewashed by man's traditions, then the fruit of that will be seen in our behaviors. There will be a lack of sincerity and realness with people. Not only does the Lord see through it, but so do others.
Where is your heart today? Are you worshiping with your lips or with sincerity in your heart? Do not just keep going through the motions, whether in your ministry services, church activities or daily checklist of religious do's and don'ts. Get real with the Lord today. Be careful in following the traditions of man to the extent that the Lord is far from your heart. Pray that your outside will match your inside and ask the Lord to remove your fears about how real that might look. If we all would commit to this process, we might just see a lot more people in Bible studies and church.
~Daily Disciples Devotional~