Matthew 15:7-9 (NIV) 7You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you: 8“‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. 9They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.'”
The faultfinding religious leaders of Jesus’ day criticized the fact that Jesus’ disciples did not wash their hands before they ate. Jesus did not answer their accusation but gave them a question as a reply. He asked why they nullified the commands of God because of their traditions and cited several examples. They were looking for something to accuse Jesus and His disciples of when they were the ones who were abusing the Word of God. They said all the right things in a religious way, but their hearts were not close to God. They used religion for power, prestige and pride. They had put traditions of men above the word of God.
The religious organizations of man are filled with traditions and teachings of men. Anyone of us can lose our proper focus and enter into this critical spirit, condemning others for not following man’s ways. That is elevating man’s traditions over God’s Word, in other words, idolatry. When we do that, Isaiah and Jesus said, we are worshipping in vain. There is no value or substance to what we are doing. We are working with the accuser of the brethren. It should put the fear of God in us to realize that these leaders thought they were serving God and really worshipping Him.
Let us ask ourselves whether our issues are issues of man or of God. Spiritual maturity is shown by what we do with a fault we see. Do we intercede for that person, and trust the Lord to show us ways to encourage them to see the light of the Word, or do we tell others of the fault we see, spreading our critical spirit like a cancer. This divisive faultfinding spirit has stopped more churches in their forward progress than sexual immorality or misuse of church funds. The carnal nature in us welcomes slander, but the Spirit in us encourages and strengthens fellow believers.
Warning: Let us all guard our hearts and our mouths lest we be found to be worshiping in vain.
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