February 4: “The Value of a Sincere Heart”

Today’s Bible Reading:

Exodus 19:16-21:21 
Matthew 23:13-39 
Psalm 28:1-9 
Proverbs 7:1-5

Today’s Bible Verse(s):

Psalm 28:7 (NLT): “The LORD is my strength and shield. I trust him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving.”

Reflections on Today’s Bible Verse(s):

As we take the journey through today’s reading in Matthew, a prominent theme emerges. We don’t have to look hard for it. It screams from the pages, demanding that we sit up and pay attention.

Listen to what Jesus said:

“What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! …” (Matthew 23:13)
“What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! …” (Matthew 23:15)
“Blind guides! …” (Matthew 23:16)
“Blind fools! …” (Matthew 23:17)
“What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! …” (Matthew 23:23)
“Blind guides! …” (Matthew 23:24)
“What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! …” (Matthew 23:25)
“You blind Pharisees! …” (Matthew 23:26)
“What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! …” (Matthew 23:27)
“What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! …” (Matthew 23:29)
“Snakes! Sons of vipers! …” (Matthew 23:33)

The anger in Jesus’ words isn’t hard to miss, is it?

So, we know WHO He was angry at. It was the Pharisees. They were the religious leaders of the day.

But, WHY was He so angry at the Pharisees? In a word – hypocrisy.

They appeared to be one thing to people but were quite another thing in their hearts. God is not indifferent to this. He can’t stand it! Just read back over all of the previous verses to see that God loathes hypocrisy.

So, what are we to do? Working on our behaviors is hard enough – working on changing our heart borders on the impossible. Should we give up? No! A thousand times – NO!!!

Friend, that is what the power of the Cross is all about. If God has saved you, He is about the business of making you more like Jesus. Some grow in Christlikeness very slowly, and others progress much more quickly.

But, regardless of your pace, we are all going to stumble. There will be times when we appear holy on the outside, but we know all too well how deceptive our hearts are.

So, drop down on your knees, ask for God’s forgiveness, and receive it. Ask Him to continue working in your heart to root out sinful attitudes and motives. Repent of each thing that He exposes. Further, ask Him to help you replace those sinful heart attitudes with other attitudes that are pleasing to Him.

Maybe you won’t notice a change in a week or even a month. But, years down the road, you will be able to see that God has worked on your heart. You aren’t merely appearing holy on the outside. You are becoming more holy on the inside.

Don’t just try to act holy, friend. Strive to BE holy. The former is external and seeks to impress others, while the latter is internal and seeks to impress God. The former is Pharisaical, while the latter is Christlike.

Which one are you striving for?

Photo by Timur Romanov on Unsplash

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I have an incredible wife that God gave to me on May 10, 1997. Since then, the Lord has blessed us with three wonderful boys. I am also the pastor of the First Baptist Church of Polk City, Florida.

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