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How is Your Heart?

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Matt. 15:1-20



Intro: In the South you can say just about anything about a person if it is followed by “bless their heart.”  Look at that ugly baby, bless his little heart; did you see how fat that man was, bless his heart; I can’t believe she would come to church dressed like that, and at her age, bless her heart.

In the passage that we have read today Jesus gets to the heart of the matter.  He tells us that what matters is not so much what you do on the outside, but what causes you to do those things.  What really matters is your heart.

The scribes and Pharisees had come all the way from Jerusalem.  One of the things that we know about these groups is that they built hedges around the law.  I can explain it in reverse.  At BJ girls would come as a freshman with a list of everything they wanted in a husband.  Gifted artist, great man of God, romantic, rich but down to earth,  etc.  By the second semester of the senior year they would have whittled the list down to two, warm and breathing.   The Pharisees did this in reverse.  They added more laws and more laws.  They kept these laws and went around condemning anyone who did not.  It was easy to tell who was right with God, just look at who kept the rules.

  1. WE ALL HAVE HEART TROUBLE.  V. 7, 14, 19 “hypocrites and blind, murderer, liar, etc. ”
    1. The heart trouble causes us to want to condemn others. –vv. 1-2  Washing hands was not hygiene, but was purification. There are only a couple of commands in the Bible for hand washing and this was for the priests when they undertook temple duties or ate sacrificial food. They added to it and it gave them a way to condemn others  We all have this problem, even ministers.  I wanted to preach against someone, they didn’t show.  The Mishna has a whole tractate (Yadayim) on Hands
    2. The heart trouble causes us to miss the bigger picture. Vv. 3-6 washed their hands but forgot their parents.  Burned Car in Planes Trains and Automobiles- yes officer we really do, the radio works
    3. The heart trouble Ultimately shows that we know we are sinners. 

Karl Menningir’s Whatever Became of Sin? On a sunny day in September 1972, a stern-faced, plainly dressed man could be seen standing still on a street corner in the busy Chicago Loop. As pedestrians hurried by on their way to lunch or business, he would solemnly lift his right arm, and pointing to the person nearest him, intone loudly the single word, “GUILTY!”                Then, without any change of expression, he would resume his stiff stance for a few moments before repeating the gesture. The, again, in the inexorable raising of his arm, the pointing, ant the solemn pronouncing of one single word, “GUILTY!”

The effect of this strange  pantomime on the passing strangers was extraordinary, almost eerie. They would stare at him, hesitate, look away, look at each other, and then at him again; then hurriedly continue on their ways.                      One man, turning to another exclaimed: “But how did he know?”

    1. Some use religion to fix themselves.  All other religions say “TRY”
    2. Some use vocation to fix themselves.  Vv. 10-12  These were the elite jobs in  Israel.  Even the vocation of Clergy is not safe.  Seeing Spurgeon notes this week  Spurgeon says “don’t get into the ministry to save your soul”
    3. The fixing never works-  v13  we are all blind
    1. We are lost until we realize that we deserve that punishment.
    2. We are lost without someone to take the punishment for us.  V.13

Concl:  How is your heart?  Years ago some kids were behind a mall and they walked by a dumpster and saw two human legs.  They immediately ran inside the store and asked the owner to call the police (this was before 911).  The incident escalated and several police cars showed up, a swat team, etc.  Finally after they approached the dumpster they realized that what the kids had seen was the legs of a manikin that one of the other stores had thrown out.

There are lots of people who look like they are in good shape.  Yet if we could look into their hearts we would see that they are as lifeless as a manikin.  How is your heart?  The only hope any of us have is through the change brought about through Jesus.

When we get to heaven I can say Lord, I am a minister.  I’ve married them, I’ve buried them, I have a robe, it even says doctor in front of my name, what more could you want?  The Lord saying, “I want to see your heart.”

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