Matthew 15; Mark 7
I am more of a Pharisee than I’d like to admit! I wonder if their hand-washing ritual was the first recorded germaphobic action? I don’t eat until I wash my hands…because I know that there may very well be unclean bacteria and other unseen booger bears on my hands. Yet Jesus reprimanded them for their blind adherence to tradition. I don’t think it was the hand washing itself that he took issue with: rather, it was the attitudes of their hearts. He wanted them to see that a person’s character is made unclean by the attitude of the heart towards the Lord and towards others.
If people use the Lord as a crutch to avoid having to help others, then they are abusing something that should be sacred and are exposing their true hearts. For example, if I neglect to help an injured person in a legalistic effort to keep the Sabbath, then I am completely missing the point.
I pray I will be able to keep a clear head so that it will not be said of me, as it was said of the Pharisees by Jesus (as quoted from Isaiah’s prophesy):
‘These people honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
7They worship me in vain;
their teachings are but rules taught by men.’[b] 8You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men.”
However, I still think I will keep washing my hands and stocking my purse with hand sanitizer! I can be clean-handed and still follow God’s commands, right?