Monday, January 5, 2009

Fresh Starts in the Heart?

The first of a new year often stirs in me a desire for new commitments and fresh starts! I'm looking forward to studying things in the Bible I have never studied, and I am hoping to try crocheting again with my daughter! (The DVD has been sitting by the TV for about 3 weeks now. . . . .) We re-assigned chores among the children (something they always look forward to after 6 months of the same chores), and I am looking forward to some of the new things we will be learning in our homeschool this upcoming "semester."

I know many make resolutions and commitments; most of these are usually made with great intentions! I, too, have make a commitment or 2 for the new year and many, many more in the past, but after reading Matthew 15, realized most of my plans were centered on the outward person.

Some of the Pharisees had come all the way from Jersualem to see Jesus. . . .not for healing, not to hear His teaching, but to scrutinize Him and His activities. They noticed the disciples ignored their "tradition of ceremonial hand washing before they eat" (v. 2) and questioned Christ about this broach of their tradition.

Jesus begins to point out to them that they had let their religious traditions come before the direct commandments of God. He gives the example of not honoring their parents. The Phariesees had told the people that they could tell their parents they were unable to help them saying, "Sorry, I can't help you. For I have vowed to give to God what I would have given to you" (v. 5).

"You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesided about you, for he wrote, 'These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship is a farce, for they teach man-made ideas as commands from God'" (Matthew 15:7-9).

Jesus was emphasizing 1.) the condition of the heart is so much more important than our outward motions and 2.) religious traditions, no matter how special and meaningful, should never replace or trump the Word of God.

After rebuking the Pharisees, the Lord calls the crowd and teaches them:

"It's not what goes into your mouth that defiles you; you are defiled by the words that come out of your mouth. . . . . But the words you speak come from the heart--that's what defiles you. For from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, all sexual immorality, theft, lying, and slander. These are what defile you. Eating with unwashed hands will never defile you" (Matthew 15:11, 18-20).

I want to have a pure heart. I want to honor the Lord with my heart as well as my lips.

Do my new commitments for the year reflect this desire, or do they look like a Pharisee's list?

What about you?

In the Heart of our Home,

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