“And he 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.””
What an indictment. Jesus is speaking with these religious leaders, Pharisees and scribes, who were criticizing Jesus and his disciples. And he starts talking with them this whole passage in the beginning of Mark, chapter 7, about how they have exalted their traditions, over God’s word, which is a whole nother issue we can dive into, our tendency to minimize God’s word and elevate our thoughts and our ways, even when doing religious things, even when doing things that are supposedly for God. And that’s what’s so humbling about this verse, that “Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites.” He said, “This people honor me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.”
Father, help us to authentically worship You. May we honor You both with our lips and our lives.
How possible is that in my life and your life, to do all sorts of things, in supposed religious devotion, religious activity? This is so humbling, just to think about, that it’s possible for me to lead a podcast called Pray the Word, and take a few minutes and do this and just be talking, and my heart is just in a totally different place. It’s possible to pray and be saying words, but my heart not bringing glory to God. It’s possible to be singing a song in musical worship, gathered with the church or at home and singing, gather on a screen during these days of the pandemic, whatever it might be, but it’s possible to sing and our heart is in a totally different place. And so, we’re driven to pray, even right now.
God, please examine our hearts, test our hearts, soften our hearts. Help us, we pray, to glorify you with hearts that are close to you, that are attuned to you, that is not just going through motions. God, keep us from monotonous, perfunctory religious motion, that assumes to claims to honor you with our lips while our hearts are actually far from you. God, please grant that we would authentically worship you, that we would authentically pray, that we would authentically meditate upon your word, not just read through it, but that our heart would be engaged in it, that when we worship with your church, that our hearts would be in tune with your spirit, that in our interactions with each other, that you would give us tender hearts toward you, that then flow into the love we have for one another.
Oh, God, we pray that it would not be said of us, “This people honor me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.” God, may that not be said of me. May that not be said of any person listening right now. May it be said of us that we honor you with our lips and our heart is close to you. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.