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In Matthew chapter 15 today we read about Jesus confronting the Pharisees on their "age-old traditions." I read in Zondervan's & Tyndale's commentaries that after the Babylonian exile, Jewish rabbis began to make meticulous rules and regulations governing the daily life of people. And that these rules were added to God's law and were essentially elevated to the same sacred status by the Pharisees. In 200 A.D. these traditions of the elders were put into writing in the Mishnah. I think what Jesus gets at here in this chapter is that the Pharisees were allowing the "rules & regulations" to overshadow the spirit of God's law. They were not honoring their parents because of the practice of Corban - giving $ to the temple. Which, giving $ to the temple is a good thing... but at the expense of the great thing of caring for your parents? I know we all could probably go round and round on what is the greatest good - how should we spend our time and our money and our lives. I like that Jesus basically takes it to the heart. What is the heart of the matter? No matter what the matter is - taking care of your parents, giving to your church, obediently following God's will, receiving God's grace - what is the heart of the matter? One thing that I have been so blessed to learn over the past few years is that the condition of our hearts matters. Immensely. The motives of why we do something - anything - matters. Immensely. We are called in Proverbs to "guard our hearts, for it is the wellspring of life." If we do not care for the state of our hearts, we can become very regimented or insensitive in our thinking and doing. We might even get to the point in verse 8 of this chapter where Jesus quotes from Isaiah: "`These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far away." How is the state of your heart today? Is it close to God? Does your heart yearn for Jesus?
Jesus continues to speak about the importance of what is in our hearts in verses 18-20 today: "But evil words come from an evil heart and defile the person who says them. For from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, all other sexual immorality, theft, lying, and slander. These are what defile you." I think this takes us back again to the Sermon on the Mount - where Jesus teaches us in one example that yes, it is wrong to commit adultery. But, if you commit adultery in your heart, it is just as wrong. Because if you commit adultery in the heart, you have defiled your own heart. And from the heart could come the actual act of committing adultery - which would then shatter several lives. But it all starts in the heart.... So - the good news? Jesus can heal our hearts! Jesus is in the business of heart-healing! Maybe in your life, you might need to refocus from some external actions and start focusing on the state of your heart? Maybe by focusing on what's going on inside your heart, the external actions will ultimately change? Maybe allow Jesus to heal your heart - and then your external life will be healed as well? I'm not sure you can go about this the other way - trying to work from the outside back in... I think you need to start on the inside first and work your way out. But don't do this alone - let Jesus walk this healing path with you. Let Jesus tattoo your heart with his healing love!
Bible.org's commentary on today's readings in Matthew chapter 15 titled "Jesus and the Traditions of the Elders" is at this link and "The Faith of a Canaanite Woman" is at this link.
Worship Video: Today's readings remind me of the Laura Story song “Indescribable” sung here live by Chris Tomlin at Red Rocks from the sound board in the middle of the audience:
Do you know our Indescribable God? Click here for His description!
Comments from You and Questions of the Day: In Matthew 15 verses 10 & 11 today we read: "Then Jesus called to the crowd to come and hear. “Listen,” he said, “and try to understand. It’s not what goes into your mouth that defiles you; you are defiled by the words that come out of your mouth."" Do you agree with these words of Jesus'? Are you cognizant of the words that come out of your mouth on a moment by moment basis? Have you ever had to conscientiously change the words that come out of your mouth because they were not blessing others? Do you use profanity? (or am I being a Pharisee by even asking this question... :) I think it's a fair question - does profanity come out of your mouth? Do you think this is pleasing in God's sight? Also, what verses or insights stand out to you in today's readings? Please post up by clicking on the "Comments" link below!
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