Tag: mouth and heart

Of specks and planks!

Scripture reading for March 25th: Luke 6:39-7:10

It is always easy to see the faults in others and to miss your own.  We tend to be willfully blind to any problems we may have.  It is not easy to change ourselves and impossible unless we acknowledge that there is a problem.  This first step is hard because of pride.  Admitting weakness or sin makes us feel ashamed or worthless.  Often we really don’t want to change either.  We may use our weakness or our sin as a crutch to help us get by or give us an excuse as to why we are like we are.

Jesus told the people a parable to help them see their trouble.  “Can a blind man lead a blind man?   Will they not both fall into a pit?  A student is not above His teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like His teacher.  Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?  How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye?  You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” (Luke 6:39-42)

The Pharisees had been deriding Jesus and His disciples for various small issues.  They didn’t like them eating with ‘sinners and tax collectors’ whom they considered ‘unclean’.  This was a ‘speck’ they were trying to remove from Jesus’ eye while Jesus was showing them the plank in their eye!  He had come to save ‘sinners’, not those who were righteous!  (Luke 5:31)  The Pharisees condemned Jesus for healing the man with the shriveled hand on the Sabbath, thus doing work on a day of rest.  Jesus tried to help them with their ‘plank’–missing the mercy and love of God towards hurting people, even on the Sabbath.  (Luke 6:9-11)

Christians must guard against the ‘planks’ that come to block our vision and cause us to judge others.  With the judgment we give, it will be measured back to us!  (Luke 6:37-28)  What ‘planks’ are sticking out of your eye today?  “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.  See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139:23-24)

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Lip Service!

Scripture reading for January 22nd: Matthew 15:1-28, Psalm 17:1-7, Proverbs 4:5-9

Religious people always bothered Jesus.  They were always following Him around and looking with a magnifying glass at His actions to find out if He was keeping their laws.  They were so focused on His actions, that they missed who He was and entry into the kingdom of heaven.  As we read today’s passage, we have opportunity to see how Jesus dealt with religious people and to check our own hearts for traces of this kind of hypocrisy!

“You Hypocrites!  Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you: “‘These people honor me with their lips; but their hearts are far from me.  They worship me in vain;  their teaching are but rules taught by men.'” The Pharisees and teachers of the law had come to Jesus questioning why He and His disciples did not wash their hands before they ate, as was the tradition of the elders.  Jesus turned the tables on them and questioned as to why they broke God’s commands to satisfy the traditions of the elders!  He confronted their hypocrisy by quoting Isaiah the prophet.  Hypocrisy is play-acting.  It is saying we stand for truth and obedience to God’s commands and then correct others but fail to live correctly ourselves.

These religious leaders were saying that they honored and worshiped God, but Jesus said their worship was in vain.  It was empty and useless because it did not come from a heart that was sold out to God and dependent on His mercy.  Their worship was based on tradition, not humble obedience to God’s commands!  True worship in it’s essence is complete obedience.  Lip service is not true worship!

Jesus called the crowd to Him and said, “‘Listen and understand.   What goes into a man’s mouth does not make him ‘unclean,’  but what comes out of his mouth, that is what makes him ‘unclean.'” Washing hands cannot cleanse a heart that is unclean!  Only repentance and faith in Jesus can do that!  Jesus had offended the religious Pharisees with his strong statements.  But Jesus had acted in love, hoping to wake them up and save them and their followers from sin and death.  We must check out our own hearts and actions.  Do we just give lip service to following Jesus, or have we repented and put our trust in God’s mercy?  Religion is bondage but faith brings liberty!

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