READ: Matthew 15:1-28
THINK: Have you ever felt the need to fake something? You may at times be able to fool a lot of people, but you can never pull one over on God. So why even try? It's easy to give the appearance of honoring God with your words and certain actions and activities. But a person's inner motives and spiritual heart condition are what really matter to God. It's one thing to worship in words or songs, but it's another thing to live in a way that is truly worthy of identifying with Jesus.
RESPOND: In ways can traditions be good? In what way can they get in the way of good or even be bad? (See 15:6 note.) In what ways do people sometimes honor God with their lips, while their hearts are far from Him? (See 15:6 note). What do a person's words and conversations indicate about his or her inner thoughts and character? What can you do to ensure that your speech and conversation honors God and reflects a pure heart? Jesus' words and actions toward the Canaanite woman may have seemed harsh, but He had a purpose for responding to her as He did. What was His reasoning and what did the woman's words and actions tell you about her? (See 15:28 note). What can you learn from her example?
PRAY: Ask God to help you keep your heart in right relation to Him so that your words and actions reflect love for and devotion to God. Pray with a peaceful but persistent faith that leaves your requests in God's hands but continues to believe that He will do what only He can. Ask God to test your faith as He sees fit.
ACT: Make a note to yourself that will help you remain conscious of your conversation throughout the day. Consider what the words you say--and are tempted to say--might reflect about the spiritual condition of your heart. Ask God to keep your motives pure in serving Him. Be conscious of situations throughout the day that may test your faith and character. Pass these tests and grow stronger spiritually by responding in a way that honors God.
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