Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Heart of the Matter

I was just spending some time reading the Bible this morning as part of my daily reading plan and came across a passage that is very familiar, but maybe I needed to hear once again. Jesus is in a part of His ministry when He is continually battling the Pharisees and religious leaders of Israel. They are asking Him questions like, "Why don't you wash your hands in a ceremonial way before eating." This is something they invented, an external rite or ritual that they said made them holy. Jesus responds by asking them, "Why are you disrespecting your parents in the name of religion?" But then He gets to the heart of the matter when He points out their hypocrisy. He quotes the prophet Isaiah and says:
"This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men." (Matt. 15:8-9)
As I read that, I wondered how frequently Jesus could say this of me. Or our church. Or the people I worship with. Or the Christian community at large. Or you. How often do we give lip service to the worship of Jesus, but our heart is far from it. Or let's get specific:
  • How often do we sing the songs at church, but we really don't care what the words are even saying?
  • How often do we leave church telling the pastor it was a good sermon, but we really have no plans of applying anything to our life?
  • How often do we carry our Bibles to church as if it means something to us, but we never crack them throughout the week?
  • How often do we think that we are better than the adulterer, but we live with a secret life of lust?
  • How often do we say that we love Jesus, but we hold bitter grudges against His followers?
  • How often do we say that Jesus means more to us than anything, but we would honestly much rather watch Tim Tebow than anything else?
I think you get the point. The list can keep going. I think the older I get, the more I realize it has very little to do with the external appearance. I care much more about what God thinks of my heart than I do about what others think of my actions (I am not trying to disregard actions, but exalt the heart behind the actions). I want to not do religious deeds, but love Christ from the heart!

Question: What Are Some Other Examples Of Lip Service To Jesus?

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