“For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands in a special way, holding the tradition of the elders.”
Man was created with a need to know God. In fact, we only experience the fullness of life when we are in right relationship with God. Man, apart from God, is like an expensive luxury car, purchased only to sit in the driveway under a cover. That is not what it was designed to do. Nor were we designed to live apart from God. That is why there is a longing in our hearts to know God. This longing shows itself in worship; every man worships something. God’s answer to this was to send His Son, so we could know Him. Man’s answer is to become incurably religious. Like an old miner who hits a vein of fool’s gold; so many have satisfied their soul’s longing for God with religious practices.
The Pharisees picture for us the religious man. They had established an entire system of actions that they believed would make God happy. In reality, all this did was dilute the craving their souls had for truly experiencing God. Like all man-made religions, all the Pharisees could do was focus on the externals. Their focus was on things like dress, food, and behavior in public.
Things are no different today. God has put eternity in our hearts. He wants us to know Him, and live in relationship with Him. Like the Pharisees, we often settle for religious practices. Rather than wanting to meet with God, we will treat devotions like a check list. Instead of worship, we treat the songs at church as the preamble till the Bible study begins. Rather than listening to the Word, and letting it transform our lives, we critique the message, and compare it with the one from last week; or with one from our favorite teacher. We begin to measure our spirituality by the things we are not doing, instead of by how we are becoming more like Jesus, as a result of spending time with Him daily. Perhaps the words of Isaiah could be applied to us,
“This people honors Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me.” Mark 7:6
While it is important that the outside line up with the inside (our actions prove that we have been born again), outward change will never make us right with God.
Perhaps this morning would be a good time to evaluate your relationship with God. Have you allowed Him to come in and reign in your heart? Or are you simply going through the motions, trying to live a better life, satisfied with a pocket full of fool’s gold?