Jesus called the Pharisees hypocrites because they worshiped God for the wrong reasons. The motivation of their worship was more about control and making themselves look and feel good than about God’s mission of healing, restoration and Spiritual renewal in the hearts of the people. Their desire was for profit. It was a desire to increase their status. I have to say that even Ii must always keep myself in check. I must always be asking myself, “Am I doing this for “me” or am I doing this for God?
Mark 7:5-7 (TNIV)
5 So the Pharisees and teachers of the law asked Jesus, “Why don’t your disciples live according to the tradition of the elders instead of eating their food with defiled hands?” 6 He replied, “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written: ” ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. 7 They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.’
I heard it said this way, “People who strongly oppose all tradition are misguided. Good traditions give us a sense of time and place, a home base. Religious tradition helps us understand who we are.
Great traditions shine a spotlight on God’s Word, move us to obedient service, and help our hearts sing the joy of freedom in Christ. They should explain and reinforce the teachings of God, not be screens that block out the light. God’s Word should always be the focus, and tradition a means of making that Word lively. Celebrate your traditions with the prayer that Christ would be exalted.”
AND MOST IMPORTANLY: “Change your tradition when IT becomes king or when IT amplifies a substitute for God’s Word.”
So…….it is important to always seek to keep our motivations in check. It is when we start to pay more attention to appearance or reputation than to ethics and character that we might need to question our motivation. It is when we follow certain religious practices which make us feel good about ourselves yet allow our heart to be far from God that we might need to question our motivation. Indeed, it is when we emphasize our virtues and ignore our own sin, or when we emphasize the sin of others, that we need to question our motivations.
It is important that we simply be real. Hypocrisy is pretending to be something we aren’t and have no intention of being. This is why humility, both before God, indeed, before Jesus, as well as humility before our friends and family is so very important. I certainly don’t want to say that keeping our heart in check is a one-time or even easy process. It is an everyday question we should ask ourselves. What is my motivation?
It is important that we worship and serve God and others with our heart and not just with our lips.