Today's Devotion

From Mike MacIntosh

Jesus said to the Pharisees, "All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition."
Mark 7:9

Have you ever loved a TV show so much that you told all your friends and family to watch it?  Or maybe you loved a joke so much that you forwarded it to everyone in your address book?  Or called a toll-free number to vote for your favorite reality talent show contestant?  For better or worse, we champion the things we love.  We talk about what we hold in high regard.  And whether you realize it or not, you are a living, breathing billboard for something.  The question is, for what?

The Pharisees championed their traditions -- and there was no mistaking it.  Not only did they talk about their traditions; they enforced them.  When they saw Jesus' disciples eating bread with unwashed hands, they "found fault" (Mark 7:2), and asked Jesus, "Why do your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders?" (Mark 7:5).  In fact, the Pharisees were trying to undermine Jesus by implying that His disciples were "out of sync" with their own traditions, and therefore "out of sync" with God.  But they didn't care whether or not the disciples were actually being obedient to God -- they felt disrespected, and frankly, threatened.  The Pharisees clung to their traditions, because their traditions defined them.  They enforced their traditions, because their traditions validated their authority.  But in passing off their traditions as doctrine, Jesus called them hypocrites, honoring God only with their lips, with hearts that were far from Him (Mark 7:6-7).

You see, "out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks" (Matthew 12:34).  You may try to convince people that you have it all together -- that you're a religious man, or a spiritual woman -- but your mouth will reveal your heart.  And you may have known the Lord for decades, but maybe your friends and family have little idea, because you talk more about the latest sporting event or TV show than about Him.  The things you dwell on are the things you speak about.  The things you love determine the way you live.

We must not be hypocrites, like the Pharisees, whose pious words deceived hearts that were distant from God.  We must not be people who are concerned only with the cleanliness of peoples' hands, and ignore the condition of their hearts.  Let us not become deaf to the commands of God because they inconvenience -- or worse -- threaten us.  If we truly love the Lord with all our heart, all our soul, all our mind, and all our strength, there will not be a disconnect between the words we say and the life we live.

Today, what is most important to you?  Answer honestly, because otherwise you're only fooling yourself.  If Jesus Christ is your first love, it will be evident.  If He's not, people already know.  Let me encourage you today to fall in love with Jesus.  Run into His loving arms! Don't worry about how it will affect the way people see you; don't concern yourself with how it threatens to change your life.  The change is always -- always -- for the better.  When He changes your heart, you speak differently, you act differently, and you live differently.

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new" (2 Corinthians 5:17).

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