“‘This people honors me with their lips,
but their heart is far from me;
7 in vain do they worship me,
teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’
8 You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.” Mark 7:6-8
Often I read a passages like this and automatically think how foolish the Pharisees were. Over and over again we read about the traditions and rituals they created instead of following the simple commands of God.
But wait….don’t I do the same thing. Don’t we do the same thing? I think back over my week and all the things that I did “in the name of Jesus” and ask myself, “Were all of those things necessary…profitable… commanded? Did they bring my heart closer to God?” The traditions and rituals we create in our own lives set up standards in our minds that we then expect others to hold to. When they don’t reach that standard or follow that tradition, we judge them. We judge ourselves.
– Lord, do I serve and worship the You on the outside but my heart is distant and far from you?
– Have my traditions become more important than your commandments?
9 And he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition!”
Ouch! What do I do that pulls away from the commandments of God? What unwritten rules that have become more important than loving the Lord?
Jesus was trying to get us all to understand that man made traditions are not done to worship the Lord but protect us from outside evil influences. There is nothing we can avoid on the outside that will change our hearts on the inside. The Lord wants clean hearts, not clean hands.
18 And he said to them, “Then are you also without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him, 19 since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?”
What make us unclean before God has little to do with the outside influences. It is not what we do that makes us unworthy but why we do it. The cleanest look on the outside often hides the dirtiest of hearts but it’s the gospel that purifies. This passage reminds me to look on the inside instead of worrying about the evil world around me. When I see my own sin and my dirty heart it leads me to humble myself and look to the One who provided grace when I didn’t deserve it.
The gospel itself is our test code- simply put, love God and love each other. Jesus leaves us with a perfect example to follow. Once we comprehend our own filth in comparison to Jesus, we can humble ourselves before the Lord, be thankful for his love and sacrifice for us and be non- judgmental of others. It’s not the outside world that corrupts but the sin in our hearts. The ugly truth is, I’m already corrupt before the world influences my life. I am saved by grace alone not sheltering myself or my family from the world.
Thank you, Lord Jesus for your amazing plan of grace that meets me where I am and covers my sin and shame. May I take delight in your law and meditate on it day and night.