With what should I come before you, Lord? How can I bow before the most high God? Shall I come before you with costly offerings? Shall I come before you with my most prized possessions? No. You have shown me what is good. All you require of me is to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with you. That’s “all.”
Tonight I’m looking at Mark 7:1-13. Read it through. Then go back and read it again—slowly. Give your brain a chance to process each sentence. What is God’s message for you in this text tonight?
There are two things that really strike me in this passage. First, as I’ve mentioned before, I am impressed by the fact that the Pharisees were drawn to Jesus, along with some of the scribes (religious officials) “who had come from Jerusalem.” Why were they “gathered to him?” Was it because his reputation had gotten around so much that they were curious? Or were they already feeling threatened, and already looking for some way to trip him up?
The second thing that I’m continuing to think about after reading this passage is verse 6, which says, “(Jesus) said to them, ‘Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.
Oh, how easy it is to get caught up in man-made rules that have replaced God’s commands. I have been so guilty of this throughout my life! I want to give the impression that I am righteous, meanwhile I am not actively “doing justice.” I proudly parade my accomplishments and trophies around, but neglect to “love mercy.” I work very hard to be independent, self-sufficient and in-control, rather than “walking humbly with God.”
How often do my lips honor God, when my heart is far from him! How often to I worship in vain, putting burdens on others that are not God’s, but rather my own?
As I read this passage, I am repentant. I know that I am guilty, and I want to grow in grace. This is my prayer tonight. Lord, help me to grow in grace.
But how do we grow in grace? I believe it begins with who we associate ourselves with. I don’t mean who we hang out with. I mean, which “group” we see ourselves in when it comes to walking with God. Are we eager to be associated with those who are seen to have it all together, not needing anything, strong and self-sufficient—like the religious leaders? Or are we eager to be associated with those who are aware of their poverty of spirit—their need for God’s mercy? Jesus, have mercy on me, a sinner. This is the posture I have as I read this passage. Lord, let me honor you with a heart that is so close to your own heart. Let me worship you in spirit and truth.