Prayer Focus: Rwanda

Bible Reading: Matthew 15; Mark 7:1-8:10

Scripture

He replied, “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written: “ ‘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.’ You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men.” And he said to them: “You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions! (Mark 7:6-9)

Observation

Sometimes tradition is easier to follow than God. The more rules we create—formal or unstated—the more we can delineate between the good and the bad, the in and the out, the righteous and the unrighteous. The religious leaders in Jesus’ day were notorious for creating and following rules and regulations, expanding the Law to cover those things they obeyed while infringing upon the freedoms and behavior of others. Jesus rather abrasively condemned their hypocritical behavior and distorted priorities, ignoring God’s commands yet following their own.

Application

It’s easy to dismiss these verses—and others like them—as being the product of a different era. Do Pharisees exist today? Yes, and a recovering one is writing this post! Would Jesus go to an R-rated movie? Listen to rock and roll? Wear makeup (okay, so hopefully He wouldn’t wear makeup, but what about His female followers?)? Drink beer (don’t forget, He made wine!)? God has given us enough guidance through His Word. We don’t need to add checklists and regulations. What Would Jesus Do? He would—and did—follow the teachings of Scripture. He was pure both externally and internally.

Prayer

LORD, I confess that I am a recovering Pharisee. I judge others for their extra-biblical actions while failing to obey the clear commands of Scripture (including judging others inappropriately!). I want my heart and actions to glorify You at all times. Thank You for Your grace. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

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