yearB proper 17
Mark 7:1-8,14-15,21-23 - Creeds or Deeds
Rev. David Chadwell posed a rather interesting question: Which would you prefer for a next-door neighbor: a person of excellent habits or a person with a good heart? Which would you prefer for a good friend: a person of excellent habits, or a person with a good heart? Which would you prefer for a husband or a wife: a person of excellent habits, or a person with a good heart? Which would you prefer for a child: a child with excellent habits, or a child with a good heart?
It is wonderful to have a neighbor who conscientiously cares for his property while respecting your property. It is wonderful to have a friend who always treats you with consideration. It is wonderful to be married to a husband who always is thoughtful and courteous, or to a wife who always is gracious in her comments and deeds. It is wonderful to have a son or daughter who shows respect and uses good manners.
As wonderful as those situations are, none of them compare to having a neighbor, a friend, a husband, a wife, a son, or a daughter with a good heart.
When you discuss good behavior, you are discussing the quality of a person's self-control. When you discuss a good heart, you are discussing the quality of the person.
This is the focus of today’s Scripture. Pharisees and teachers have come down from Jerusalem and, interestingly, they are gathered around Jesus watching the disciples. The disciples, it seems, are eating lunch. They have come in from the day’s work. Too tired and too hungry to care that their hands and faces were dirty, they immediately sat down to eat without washing.
The Pharisees cease upon this ceremonial oversight and question Jesus: Why don’t your disciples live according to the traditions of the elders and clean their hands before they eat? This is all that Jesus needs to hear. He sticks up for his disciples, turns on these teachers and says in essence, “Why do you not live according to the traditions of God and clean your hearts?”
What mistake did these Pharisees make? What is Jesus trying to convey, not only to them, but to us as well. For you see, it is just as easy for us to fall into a good habit and leave behind a good heart. What is Jesus’ warning to us?
1. We prefer creeds rather than deeds.
2. We look at the outside not the inside.
3. But God requires good Creeds, Deeds, and Hearts.