Imagine you were one of the women followers of Jesus during his three-year ministry on earth. What would it be like as you heard his teachings, walked by his side, and watched his ministry?
I am feeling a bit homesick today. I miss our family routine of working together throughout the day to care for our farm, our tradition of father leading us from the Torah to start our day, and mother’s energetic story telling of our prophets of old. I am thinking about traditions because of a conversation Jesus had with the Pharisees. Jesus challenged the teachers of the law because they criticized his twelve disciples for not ceremonially washing their hands before they eat.
From my childhood, I see the value of traditions. But our Lord pointed out that the most important thing is that our deeds come from a pure heart to love God and others.
If we look good on the outside but our hearts are impure, God is not pleased.
Jesus used the example of God’s commandment to honor our father and mother. He rebuked the Pharisees for they teach it is proper to give a gift to the temple while overlooking our parents in their time of need. Often Jesus will rebuke them because they follow pious rules they made up to appear righteous. But actually, their hearts are self-centered and arrogant. Their focus is more on winning others approval and praise than on loving and serving those in need. Jesus used the words of Isaiah to rebuke them. “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.”
Jesus went on to tell those around us to walk away from the Pharisees for their teachings are not from the heavenly Father. He said: “Leave them, they are blind guides. If a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into a pit.” Our Lord went on to say that the things we say and do come out of our hearts. Since his teaching yesterday, I have been asking the Father to reveal to me my heart. I have used the prayer of king David to pray: “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.”
My dear sister, please share these words with our family.
It is so important that we do not nullify the Scriptures by carrying out traditions that ignore the needs of others or solicit self-praise.
Daily being challenged by our Lord,
your Big Sister
Today’s Bible Reading: Matthew 15:1-20; Mark 7:1-23; Psalm 139:23-24
Think about the things that you do regularly to celebrate or worship God. Some of these we would call traditions like celebrating Christmas, Easter, and Thanksgiving. Some are done to worship and obey the Lord like tithing or other giving to those in need, spending time in prayer or God’s Word, and going to church or Bible studies. Jesus challenges us to look at our heart motives in all we do. Take time to consider if these acts are being done out of habit and tradition, or because they are an expression of your love and worship to God. How can you bring true worship into your holiday celebrations and your spiritual activities this week?