February 12: The Heart of Man

Read Matthew 15:1-39

We have all heard of them. We have all heard from them. We have all collectively sighed when we saw them tearing down unbelievers with their actions and speech. Hypocritical Christians. If you look up a public post on Facebook that has to do with Christianity, you can bet that there’s a good chance it will be a true battle of words. You will see people bashing Christianity and “Christians” retaliating with hatred.

When people see this, how do they view Christianity as a whole? How does this influence their view of Jesus? All it takes is for one person to claim the name of Jesus and then say something wrong or in the wrong tone, and the views of others towards Christianity could be negatively influenced.

Jesus had a few run ins with people who were the very definition of hypocrites; He basically said so Himself. The vast majority of the conflict Jesus experienced, and ultimately what got Him killed, was his interactions with the Pharisees and religious leaders of the day. Historically, the religious leaders were so adamant that the law be kept, that they often missed the point of Jesus’ teachings.

Matthew 15 is a great example. As they often did, the Pharisees came to Jesus with the intention to catch him in a trap. They would try to get him to contradict the law through His teaching. As was often their plan, they made a big issue about the disciples breaking their traditions.

Jesus responded by saying that they aren’t completely innocent themselves. He reminds them how the way they do some things contradict the law too. The climax of the interaction comes in verse 11 of chapter 15, “It is not what enters into the mouth that defiles the man, but what proceeds out of the mouth, this defiles the man.”

The principle at play here is the following: It’s not about what you take in so much as it is about how you allow it to transform you. Many people get puffed up like a balloon with Bible talk and knowledge, but they never allow it to truly take root in their lives. In Bible times, there was no one more knowledgeable than the Pharisees. However, they very sternly opposed Jesus. Why is that? They didn’t allow all of that knowledge to take root. It wasn’t transforming them. The Bible is “living and active.” Do people look at you and see the Jesus that you claim to believe in?

JL

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