There are no loopholes in Christianity – Matthew 23:16-26
Getting graded in school
Are we ever guilty of using our heads too much and our hearts too little? We tend to be a very intellectual group of people, both as a culture and as a church, and that brings many benefits and has positives to it, but we must be wary to not let our minds trump our hearts when it comes to God.
- We see here that Jesus is very powerfully telling the people that the rulers and Pharisees are not practicing the law that they preach so proudly. He lists many ways in which they have outlined for themselves exactly what is acceptable and what is not, but they have missed the point of these laws.
- Jesus says later that they do all of this to look upright in front of people but that their hearts are not in their service. They have ignored the reason that God selected them, and that was to love them and to have love returned to him.
Matt. 15:1-11, 16-20
- Jesus is once again calling attention to the problem that the Pharisees and other leaders have, and that is with their hearts.
- They have gotten so wrapped in following the law to the exact letter and finding out how close they can get to overstepping it that they no longer care about loving God or caring for people like he wants them to.
- We often look back at the example of the Jews as a warning and we should, but simply being warned isn’t enough. Back in Matt. 23 Jesus says that they make memorials for the prophets that the nation of Israel had killed and they shook their heads at them and said that they wouldn’t have done the same, but they go one step further and kill not only the messenger of God, but the Son of God.
- They didn’t change by simply being warned by an example, and we shouldn’t assume the same thing about ourselves
- We need to see what doing the opposite looks like, not simply stopping the bad actions
- It is with our hearts that we believe in God, not simply with our minds that we understand the fact that God raised Jesus from the dead, but we have to fully trust and believe in the fact. And along with the fact that he will do the same for us if we are part of Christ
- We see here that Jesus is demonstrating that our greatest concern should be to love God with all of our heart, soul, and mind. So we see here that our entire being is to be committed to loving God, not simply an intellectual thing
- We need to have the words of Christ in our hearts, that we meditate on it and let it affect more than just our minds. We aren’t called simply to memorize these words, but to let them sink into our hearts and to truly impact our lives
- We are told that true obedience comes from the heart. This is the idea that we don’t obey simple because we know we ought to, but because we love God and want to honor him and show our devotion to him with our hearts
2 Cor. 9:7
- God loves someone who gives with a cheerful heart. We need to have generous hearts with our money and any other resource we have that can be shared. God has given to us generously and we need to pour that back out on people around us, and that comes from the heart.
We must constantly be aware of our actions and the reasons behind them, there is a risk that we get so intellectual that we forget why we do what we do. There is also a risk that we get caught up in the schedule of it all and just do it out of habit and not from the heart. We should look back at Matt. 15:8 and make certain that our hearts are not far from God. If that is tending to happen, the biggest help I’ve found is to read about what God has already done. Whether we turn to the Gospels and read about Jesus dying in our place, or the Psalms where David and others praise God for his greatness, or Romans that explains more clearly what Jesus did, or wherever you might turn to in order to see God’s love for us, we should be looking for something to stir up our love for God