“By turning your eyes on God in meditation, your whole soul will be filled with God.”
Saint Francis de Sales
SCRIPTURE & DEVOTION: Mark 7:1-13
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. They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.
You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions.”
Lent is to be a time of reflection, of thinking about our lives and our relationship with God and others. I think that Jesus was attempting to get the scribes and Pharisees to reevaluate their lives and religion in this section in Mark. He quoted Isaiah 29:13 to them. The statement " your hearts are far from God" should have gotten their attention!!
What does it mean to have a heart far from God ? In this case, it meant that God's heart and the Pharisee's hearts were very different. God's heart is full of compassion, the Pharisees were quick to condemn. God loves and accepts sinners, the Pharisees rejected them. God is concerned with widows and orphans and the weak and oppressed. The Pharisees despised them.
There was this big divide between God and God's people Though Jesus tried to reason with the scribes and Pharisees, their hearts were hard and most were not persuaded. This was no surprise to God. Of course, God had a plan to change hard hearts. Ezekiel 36:22 revealed it. " I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you ; I will remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh."
The plan was accomplished after Jesus death and resurrection when the Holy Spirit was given to us, to all who believe. The Spirit does many things in us, one of the most important is that He transforms our hearts. He works to make us more like Him. In Galatians 5:22,23 the results, or fruit, of the Spirit's influence in us are listed. They are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness and self control. These are godly qualities and He is working in us to give us a heart like His, a heart near to Him.
In this season of Lent, we can cooperate with the Spirit by examining ourselves. We can ask God to help us overcome weak areas that we wrestle or fail in. Use the fruit of the Spirit as a guide in your self examination. Do you have a hard time being patient, or being kind, or loving others ? Ask the Spirit to give you what you need to be more like Him in that area. I think God delights in answering those prayers.
Lord, may our hearts be aligned with your heart. May we care about what You care about and may we display Your character in who we are, and in all we say and do.