Scripture: Matthew 15:1-20
Key verse: (11) “It is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but it is what comes out of the mouth that defiles.”
Reflection: The religious leaders in Jesus’ day (so, kind of like the people who write these email devotions and probably like the people who read them every day) were focused on the wrong things. They were overly concerned about small things and weren’t faithful in big ways. They found creative loopholes to avoid obedience. They were strict about the laws of food purity (what goes into the mouth) but didn’t honor God with their speech (what comes out of the mouth).
I wonder what Jesus might say to us. Perhaps we focus too much on what other people wear to worship and not whether we are actually worshiping. Yes, you are supposed to sing and pray and listen. (Like the person who complains that people keep their eyes open during prayers – and how do YOU know?) Perhaps we justify our failure to be good stewards by finding “loopholes” in our financial statements. Perhaps we offer excuses for why we aren’t able to attend regularly while judging others for not being active in church activities. Perhaps we complain about the difficult people around us, rather than seeing opportunities to grow in our ability to love like Christ. Jesus calls us to live lives of integrity, so that the words of our faith are lived out in the reality of our daily lives.
I know that I can be tempted to focus on minor things rather than on the major things. Jesus reminds us that we are called to love God with our heart, soul, mind and strength, and we are called to love our neighbors as ourselves. Those are the big things. We might disagree on the details about how to love God and love neighbor, but we are united when we focus on the big picture.
Prayer: Dear Lord, show me my own inconsistencies and my own shortcomings, and hold me close when I feel the pain of your critique. Transform me to be more like Christ. Show me how to love you and love my neighbor today. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
Author: Millie Snyder
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].