When the rules get out of control
“Well did Isaiah prophesy about you hypocrites, as it is written: This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines human precepts. You disregard God’s commandment but cling to human tradition.” He went on to say, “How well you have set aside the commandment of God in order to uphold your tradition!
What is the point of having rules? Why are rules important to our way of life? And why does Jesus come down so hard on the Pharisees for wanting to uphold the rules? Their concern was being ritually pure for worship, which was the purpose of washing hands.
The problem of course is selectivity with the rules. There is a clear priority when it comes to following religious law. There are some things that are listed as a rule, that allow one really to skirt the rule. Don’t want to care for your parents? Reserve your resources for the Temple.
Even deeper is the sense that the external rules are not as important as the internal ones. It is often easier to focus on the external rules because addressing the internal ones is much more difficult. Changing my internal attitudes, which lead to external sins requires a much greater reliance on God’s grace.
Why? Because external observance can often be accomplished by willpower. Internal conversion is an action of the grace of God. We become more able to be internally observant when we can accept the grace of God to convert. Today, don’t get stuck only on the external, but seek the internal conversion that God can bring about in our life.
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