Daily Devotional December 8th
“These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship is a farce, for they teach man-made ideas as commands from God.” (Matthew 15:8-9)
Jesus quoted these words of Isaiah to the Pharisees after He was questioned about why His disciples did not perform the ritual hand washing before meals. He pointed out their hypocrisy of requiring this man-made observance. Why, Jesus questioned, should they get so hung up on this tradition when they were guilty of encouraging individuals to skirt the very commands of God? An individual could refuse to financially help aging parents if they claimed that those same finances had been given to God in a vow, “you say they don’t need to honor their parents. And so you cancel the word of God for the sake of your own tradition” (v.6).
When it comes to our relationship with God, we often want very different things than He does. God gives us free will–the right to stay or stray as close or as far away as we choose. We create rules–a set of definite lines that mark out the perimeter to show us how far we can go before we’ve gone too far. God has demonstrated maximum love. We want to know the minimum requirements. He wants a relationship. We want to secure our eternal destination.
In some ways, it reminds me of dog walking. Some dogs cannot be trusted to stay with their masters when off leash. We once got a dog from the SPCA that we discovered was a ‘runner.’ No matter how much we wanted to allow Keesha the freedom to go for a run, if she didn’t remain securely leashed, she couldn’t be trusted not to take off. We spent more than one frustrating episode of chase, fruitlessly calling her name in hot pursuit while she entirely ignored us.
But then there was Maggie, our golden retriever who required no leash at all. She loved going for walks and though at the beginning of every walk had a little trouble containing her excitement, we never had to worry about her taking off. She always stayed with us, even when off leash, until we told her it was okay for her to run or explore. A quick whistle or calling her name brought her bounding back, tail wagging, eager to please and spend time with us.
The difference between these two dogs was all about relationship and attitude. One required the leash due to her determination not to be controlled, the other at times chose to simply walk by our side even when given permission to roam.
So, how’s our walk? Do we demand clear cut rules to keep us in check (a leash) or do we enjoy the freedom that comes from a relationship with God? As we spend time with God we learn to desire to please Him and work to do so without the need for a set of rules that are created by others to make certain we don’t cross any lines. Rules made by religious people may make it easier to police behaviour, but they do nothing to grow love for God. And isn’t that Jesus’ point? Living by the principles of God in the freedom of relationship should be our goal...not observance of man made rules meant to enforce the appearance of religiosity.
~ Pastor Jane
First licensed for pastoral ministry in 1994, Pastor Jane Peck has served in camp and church ministries in three denominations, five provinces and in a variety of roles. Her most recent position is that of Pastor at Hope Chapel which she began in 2020. She is excited to see what God can and will do in the days to come!