Bruce Collins, Evangelist

The personal website of Bruce Collins

Are our Hearts Right with God?

Meditation for the week of September 20, 2009

Matthew 15:7-9 "Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying, ‘These people draw near to Me with their mouth, And honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me.  And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’"

Hypocrites are people who pretend to be something that they are not.  The word literally means an actor in a play.  On the stage, a good hypocrite may be praised, but the Lord condemned hypocrites on the stage of real life.  In this passage, the Pharisees were hypocrites.  The Pharisees had a religion without a relationship with the living God.  They knew the rules because they had written many of them and they appeared to be righteous, but it was obvious that their hearts were not right with God. 

What is the heart in the Bible?  It seems to represent all that motivates a person.  It is the seat of our emotions.  It is the reality of what a person really is and has to do with his will and the way he thinks.  Sometimes the heart and kidney’s are linked to represent the moral character of a person. Only God really knows the heart although all of our hearts are deceitful and desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9-10). 

In the passage before us, the Pharisee’s were living legalistically.  By that I mean that they had made laws where God had not made laws.  They also used their interpretation of the law to circumvent the purpose of the law.  The law said to honor their father and mother.  Among other things that meant to care for them financially in their old age.   But of course giving to the work of the Lord had to be more “righteous” than giving to their father or mother, right?  So they would give “to the Lord” what should have been used for their parent’s care, and they thought that God honored them for that.  Did He?  Absolutely not!  Giving to the parents would have been giving to the Lord.  There is no way that they would have done this if their hearts were right with God.

I believe that hypocrisy among those who present themselves as righteous is one of the biggest hindrances to the Gospel today.  I believe that attracting others to Christ and presenting them with the clear simple Gospel of salvation from the penalty that we deserve because of our sin is one of the greatest privileges that the Lord has given Christians.  So when people look at me when I tell them about Christ, what do they see?  Do they see someone with convictions who tries to understand and do the Lord’s will or do they see someone who thinks he knows how others should live when he doesn’t live that way himself?  Do they see someone who can see both sides of an issue and who is not disagreeable when he disagrees?  Do they see someone who makes rules where God has not made them?  Do they see someone who continually tries to explain simple truths of the Bible away when he finds them unpopular or disagreeable, or do they see someone who tries to understand and do what pleases God?  In other words, do they see someone who actually loves the Lord or do they see someone who is trying to impress others with his righteousness?

I believe our hearts are seen by what we say and by what we do.  Our attitudes are affected by our hearts.  If our hearts are right with God, I think our devotion to the Lord will be obvious to those who watch us.  If I am living a lie, I think that too will be obvious.

So the question is, “Are we honoring the Lord with our lips while our hearts are far from him?”

Bruce Collins

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