Bible Study & Devotional (Day 35)
Guiding Scripture:Matthew 23:26 “You blind Pharisee! First wash the inside of the cup and the dish and then the outside will become clean too”
🔴 Religion Versus Relationship
Contributing Writer: Christina Price
“A Real “G” – is how I often refer to Jesus. Apologies for the slang; I was raised in Brooklyn, New York, which describes someone who remains faithful. Throughout the Gospels, you see this consistent behavior in Jesus. He was never fake, always a straight shooter, and remained focused on his purpose and Father’s will. With that holy audacity, you’re bound to have critics; enter the Pharisees.
What’s Old is New Again:
In the New Testament, Pharisees were known for strict ritual observances and ceremonies of the written law. They often ascribed to their version of these traditions concerning the law. In Matthew 23, Jesus refers to them as “Blind guides” and “Hypocrites” as there was a massive disconnect between their actions and the intent of God’s law.
To their defense (as I like to weigh in on both sides), I believe they became this strict based on history. For example, the entire book of Judges is a collection of bad decisions! Therefore, while learning from their ancestors, I believe they became more focused on religion rather than relationships.
The most important commandment is to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind”. The second, which is equally important, is to “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
Jesus specifically tells this to the Pharisees in Matthew 22 and sums up the law of Moses and the demands of prophets within these two commandments.
So, where is your disconnect?
Often, we tend to rely on rules and tradition rather than taking the time to build a relationship with Jesus. Sometimes it’s easier to write a check to a charity than devote the time to serve. Or it’s easier to listen to a sermon rather than read the Bible to understand the character of God.
While there is nothing wrong with these activities on the surface, as we dig deeper, the posture of our hearts may begin to shift. Little by little, action by action, we begin to add God as part of our “to-do” list when He is the WHOLE.
In the statement to the Pharisees, Jesus urges the group to examine their behaviors (compare Matthew 23:26) and align their heart to the foundation of God, which is love. God is love, and those who live in love live in God, and God lives in them (1 John 4:16).
In choosing to accept God’s love, you accept our Father’s greatest love.
A love that is patient, kind, and filled with grace. That love is then reciprocated to the Father directly and through our actions to his people (our neighbors).
As you go on throughout your day, examine your heart and your behaviors and ask yourself: Does this action deepens my relationship with God or removes an item from my “to-do” list?
Prayer: Lord, thank you for your unconditional love. Father, I repent when I lean on religion or tradition rather than developing a deeper relationship with you. Come into my heart and show me how to extend your love to others as Jesus did. In Jesus’, name I pray, Amen.
This devotional was submitted by Christina Price, a loving contributor to Our Given Purpose. Edited by Torrie Slaughter the founder of Our Given Purpose® in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
🔴 The Bible In A Year Daily Reading Plan