By Barbara Lighthizer
Today's Scripture: Matthew 23:13-39
Central Thought: Focus on God, not ritual.
Jesus reprimanded the scribes and Pharisees calling them hypocrites, blind guides, snakes, and vipers. Our Lord revealed that these two groups of Jews were not only void of the true meaning of who God is, but they were actively destroying the faith of those they taught. The scribes and Pharisees were concerned with the outward appearance of what they did, but they ignored the condition of their relationship with God.
Even the tithe these keepers of the Law brought to the temple was unacceptable in God's sight when the more important issues of justice, mercy, and faithfulness were ignored. Although tithing is important, it is an empty ritual when the heart is not right with God.
Today many people are in the same category as the scribes and Pharisees. It does not matter what position a person holds in the church—pastor, teacher, or layperson—the act of keeping the outward appearance of being a Christian is not enough; we must give our hearts and lives to Christ.
Jesus told the Pharisees and scribes, 'You should have practiced the latter [rituals], without neglecting the former [heart right with God]” (Matthew 23:23 NIV). To accept Christ as our Savior is our passport to heaven and allows our obedience to be counted as right living before our Lord.
The Jewish leaders were so caught up in keeping the Law that the whole purpose of their worshiping God was lost in traditions. Let us worship the Lord with our hearts.
Devotional Prayer: Lord, You know how easy it is for traditions to dominate my worship time. Help me to not let them hinder me from my personal adoration of You. Please help me to worship You with my heart.
Today's Bible Reading: Exodus 19:16-21:21; Matthew 23:13-39; Psalm 28:1-9; Proverbs 7:1-5