Today’s reading is Matthew 15.
I’m reading a book right now on what the author has labeled “Cultural Christianity.” It’s all about people who claim to be Christian, but its not because of real conviction. It’s because of culture. Today’s reading couldn’t hit on that topic any better. Isn’t that what is happening when people honor God with their lips, but their hearts are far away? Of course, Jesus was talking to Jews, but the same problem can happen among “Christians.” It’s easy to have Jesus on the lips. It is an entirely different matter to have Jesus in the heart. It’s easy to know how to answer the questions with a Bible verse. It is an entirely different matter to apply the Bible verse answers to daily life. A culture of Christianity includes church attendance, it includes prayers in Jesus’s name, it includes Bible verse plaques on the wall, it includes marking “Christian” on the latest census. A conviction of Christianity includes Jesus in the heart, it includes Jesus in every decision, it includes doing the next thing to get closer to Jesus, it includes a life completely changed because God has made Jesus whom we crucified to be Savior, Lord, and King. If Jesus is in our hearts, He will be on our lips. If we are convicted, we will also have the culture. But just because we have the culture and just because He is on our lips, doesn’t mean we are near to God. Let’s keep the cart behind the horse. Let’s get near to God. The rest will take care of itself.
Monday’s reading is Matthew 16.
A Word for Our Kids
Hey kids, you can’t tell what is in a person’s heart based on what they eat; that is, what goes in their body. We can only tell what’s in a person’s heart based on what they say (or do); that is, what comes out of the body. Sure, we often try to be on our guard. We often try to filter what’s in our heart before we speak. But what is in our heart is like too much jello in a mold; no matter how you try to press down the lid, it seeps out somewhere. (If your parents have never helped you make jello in a mold, you’re missing out. Have them, or maybe your grandparents, explain it to you.) Eventually, what is in our heart will come out in our speech and in our behavior. The point here is not to go around trying to judge everyone else’s heart by their speech and behavior. Rather, it is to learn to be honest about our own speech and behavior. What does our speech and behavior say about our heart? I promise you, it doesn’t lie. Don’t think your heart is really different from your speech and behavior. It isn’t. The old lie we tell ourselves that we messed up but Jesus will judge us based on our heart instead of our behavior is just false. Our mess up shows what is actually in our heart. But when our sin shows what is in our heart, the proper response is not to give up. It is to take our heart to Jesus and lay it before Him, asking Him to create a new heart in us. Be honest about what comes out of your mouth and your behavior, that is where you will learn what you need to surrender to the Lord. That is how you will grow.