The more I’ve been getting into the Word, the more I’ve found The Lord confirms important themes in my heart and mind.
I recently published a post regarding the church’s focus on behavior versus heart.
After publishing that post, I completed a new week of my Matthew bible study.
In Matthew 15, Jesus forgets to (or, more likely, deliberately doesn’t) wash His hands before eating. The Pharisees are quick to call Him out for breaking one of the long standing Rabbinical traditions. The traditions had been put in place as a fence to keep Jews from coming close to breaking the Mosaic laws (you all know my feelings on fences).
Jesus turns the situation around on the Pharisees by calling attention to their self-righteousness in keeping tradition over the Lord’s laws.
Feeling pretty pleased with myself for catching a problem in the church that Jesus had recognized himself, I went on with my week.
Today, I began to read a book my sister gave me. Andy Stanley’s Enemies of the Heart. In her words, this book is “life-changing”.
The book focuses on the four biggest enemies to a healthy heart – guilt, anger, greed and jealousy.
The first part shares the symptoms – how to recognize when your heart and your relationship with Jesus don’t match up.
Stanley quoted Matthew 15 and went more in-depth on the account of Jesus and the Pharisees. As I read, beads of sweat began to form on my forehead.
Having a theme repeated once I consider confirmation that I’m on the right track. Having it repeated a second time, especially in a context I hadn’t before considered, is a pretty clear indication that I’ve missed something significant.
Stanley focused on Jesus’ intent in calling out the Pharisees.
On one level, my interpretation was correct. The Pharisees were so focused on behaving correctly, they completely miss the point of Jesus.
But, of course, there’s another level to the passage.
As Stanley says,
Jesus is calling out the Pharisees on not guarding what comes out of their mouths. Jesus is much more focused on what comes OUT of our bodies as He is with what goes into them. For out of the heart, the mouth speaks.
Apparently, self-righteousness can go both ways.
My energy has been focused on correcting the annoying behavior of others.
I think The Lord is telling me it’s time to learn how to recognize the plank in my own eye.
So now, I have to bring the question to God: What is coming out of my mouth that reflects a damaged heart?
While I’ve been distracted with the hearts of others, what have I missed in my own relationship with Him?
God, what am I missing?
Photo Credit: Neal Fowler
What method does The Lord most use to humble you? Leave a comment letting me know of a similar experience you’ve had.
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