God always looks at the heart. Many people look at outward appearance and actions. While we show love to God by obeying Him, many put rules and commandments first. In Jesus’ day, the religious leaders did this so much that they created their own rules and laws and added them to God’s Laws, putting more of a burden on the people and used it for their own gain. It became more about rules and regulations instead of the goodness of one’s heart. Many religions, churches, and even families today seem to make things more about traditions and following rules than about character, relationships, and love.
Then the Pharisees and some of the scribes came together to Him, having come from Jerusalem. Now when they saw some of His disciples eat bread with defiled, that is, with unwashed hands, they found fault. For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands in a special way, holding the tradition of the elders. When they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they wash. And there are many other things which they have received and hold, like the washing of cups, pitchers, copper vessels, and couches.
Then the Pharisees and scribes asked Him, “Why do Your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashed hands?”
He answered and said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: ‘THIS PEOPLE HONORS ME WITH THEIR LIPS, BUT THEIR HEART IS FAR FROM ME. AND IN VAIN THEY WORSHIP ME, TEACHING AS DOCTRINES THE COMMANDMENTS OF MEN.’ For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men—the washing of pitchers and cups, and many other such things you do.”
He said to them, “All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition. For Moses said, ‘HONOR YOUR FATHER AND YOUR MOTHER’; and, ‘HE WHO CURSES FATHER OR MOTHER, LET HIM BE PUT TO DEATH.’ But you say, ‘If a man says to his father or mother, “Whatever profit you might have received from me is Corban”—’ (that is, a gift to God), then you no longer let him do anything for his father or his mother, making the word of God of no effect through your tradition which you have handed down. And many such things you do.”
When He had called all the multitude to Himself, He said to them, “Hear Me, everyone, and understand: There is nothing that enters a man from outside which can defile him; but the things which come out of him, those are the things that defile a man. If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear!”
When He had entered a house away from the crowd, His disciples asked Him concerning the parable. So He said to them, “Are you thus without understanding also? Do you not perceive that whatever enters a man from outside cannot defile him, because it does not enter his heart but his stomach, and is eliminated, thus purifying all foods?” And He said, “What comes out of a man, that defiles a man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a man.”
Jesus is not concerned with outward appearance and rituals. He is concerned with our heart. Our character, our thoughts, our intentions. He sees our heart and what comes out of the heart often determines our behaviors. I heard once that sin is not an action, but a condition of the heart. That is what Jesus is trying to tell us. And love is the same. It comes from the heart. It often leads to our actions, but it starts from within.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth shall show forth Your praise. For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it; You do not delight in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart—These, O God, You will not despise.
Worship and honor comes from within. It is not the rituals or motions you go through. It is not just going to church or singing songs of praise. It is truly believing in your heart, and truly loving God with all your heart. It is not doing good deeds, but trusting in God and allowing the Holy Spirit to do good works through you.
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
Some people often get this backwards. Many think that if you do enough good you will be worthy of heaven and be saved. But scripture says the opposite. We do good deeds because we are saved and desire to do what is right in God’s eyes. We do good deeds because that is God’s will. Doing good deeds for any other reason will not gain you anything but a pat on the back.
“Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly.”
The Pharisees were all about getting glory and praise for themselves. They loved the power, prestige, and praise. But God seeks our hearts. His desire is that we all would be saved and we all love Him and love others, not because we expect something in turn, but because it is the desire of our hearts. Salvation is through faith. It comes from the heart. It leads to actions. Not the other way around. Jesus paid the price so that we do not have to. We just need to trust in Him.
But what does it say? “THE WORD IS NEAR YOU, IN YOUR MOUTH AND IN YOUR HEART” (that is, the word of faith which we preach): that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture says, “WHOEVER BELIEVES ON HIM WILL NOT BE PUT TO SHAME.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. For “WHOEVER CALLS ON THE NAME OF THE LORD SHALL BE SAVED.”
God sees into our hearts. He sees our character. He sees our intentions and our desires. Believe in Jesus and trust in Him and all things will fall into place. That does not mean we will not have struggles or hardships. But it does mean that He will get us through them. It does mean that He will adopt us as sons and daughters, and we will gain an inheritance far greater than anything this earth has to offer. It does mean that we will spend eternity with Him in heaven and He has prepared a place for us.