Message: The scribes and Pharisees were at it again and wanted to know why some of the disciples of Jesus did not follow the Jewish traditions of the hand washing ritual. Jesus pointed out an example of another manmade rule they had followed so closely that it actually caused them to dishonor something else that was actually written in the law of Moses. We see some of this in our Christian culture where we have taken such an obsession with an appearance of clean-cut modesty or sexual morality, but we actually abuse and dishonor people who we don’t believe are following our form of morality. This is not to say that we shouldn’t examine ourselves and be accountable in these areas, by why do we believe it’s ok to dishonor people made in the image of God? An example our pastor often uses is cussing vs gossip. There are people who would never utter a single cuss word, yet they have no issues gossiping or verbally assaulting someone.
Command: We need to know why we do what we do. The convictions we hold need to come from a place of meaning in our hearts, not simply because it’s the religious thing to do. In some ways this gives us tremendous freedom, but more than that it should take on a deeper meaning.
Promise: God sees the motives of the heart. This is a relief when I am acting out of obedience from the heart level and asking God to show me what I need to see about my motives and attitude.
Warning: God sees the motives of my heart. Yes, this is both a promise and a warning that should terrify me. I can’t hide the condition of my heart from him so it doesn’t matter what I outwardly do that looks moral or right if the motive of my heart is filthy.
Application: This is a reminder to me that walking with Jesus is so much deeper than keeping a moral and modest appearance. God is most concerned about the condition of my heart. If my outward obedience comes from a desire for reputation, I might look good, but I might not BE good. If my obedience comes from a place of surrender, I will let God deal with things from the heart level, and the outward expression of that heart change will show up without effort.