Jesus told the Pharisees they had twisted God’s word with their tradition. They got upset because the disciples were eating dinner without first washing their hands. Jesus replied that they shouldn’t be so focused on the outward appearance, because their hearts were not clean.
This goes back to our discussion of legalism on Wednesday. We should choose to avoid something because we feel a conviction, not because we think it will make us look more holy. The first is a valid reason (wanting to please God), while the second is invalid (wanting to look better in everyone else’s eyes). Which one do you think God will honor?
The Pharisees did a lot of things to make themselves seem more holy. But because they were doing it for that reason, it was displeasing to God. Had they been doing them out of conviction and obedience, it would have been different. It reminds us that we need to examine our motives. Why do we act the way we do? Why do we say the words we say? Are we doing it out of obedience, or out of pride? Take some time to examine yourself. You may find the following prayer helpful:
Lord God, you sent your Son Jesus Christ to show us a holy way of living: Grant us grace that we might follow you out of obedience, and that we might put away our pride and false pretenses; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.