Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that. (Mark 7:13)
Like many teenagers, I had a chore list. And like any teenager, I always looked for loopholes in the requirements. When my mother assigned me to dust, I dusted around the objects on the shelves instead of actually moving them. My loophole helped me complete the chore in a fraction of the time, and I was certain nobody would ever notice. Who looks that closely anyway? My mom, that’s who. And I would have to start all over. Ugh!
The Pharisees and religious teachers thought they had found a way around the commands of God. By declaring some of their wealth Corban—or dedicated to God—they could appear righteous and hide the selfish greed lurking in their hearts. Who would ever notice they actually gave only a fraction to the temple and kept the rest for themselves? Jesus, that’s who. The traditions served as a loophole for truly honoring their fathers and mothers. Jesus called them out.
Appearances can be deceiving, even self-deceiving. If I check off the boxes (attend church, listen to Christian radio, write that check, etc.), I can give the appearance of devotion to God. Religious activity is often a loophole for true devotion. However, the Word “penetrates . . . joints and marrow” (Heb. 4:12), revealing the dust hidden beneath. Aligning our hearts with Scripture is difficult, but the end result is worth the effort.
Never substitute religious activity for devotion to the commands of Scripture.
Cheryl McHenry has been a Wesleyan minister’s wife for over twenty years in South Dakota and Wyoming. She currently resides in Indiana and enjoys walking with her husband.
© 2020 Wesleyan Publishing House. Reprinted from Light from the Word. Used by permission. Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®.