Talk 3 – Soiled Lips and Distant Hearts

WELCOME to our Matthew exploration.

The message we are preaching to you today is very fitting and I say that because we know a lot of people are experiencing fatigue right now.

How many of you are experiencing fatigue? You’re tired and I’m not talking about just physical tiredness. Some are experiencing emotional fatigue. Some are experiencing mental fatigue.

For example, you might be experiencing what’s called compassion fatigue. It means that you are tired of being compassionate
towards other people. And this is a real thing. For example, you might have been taking care of a loved one for so long and now you’re so worn out.

Some of you might be experiencing what’s called donors fatigue—when you are so tired of giving left and right to different charities and you feel like your resources are getting depleted, your wallet is getting tired.

I also heard that some of us are getting what’s called caution fatigue—you are tired of being cautious, you are tired of having to worry if the doorknob in your office or the elevator button in your condo might be infected with this COVID-19.

You are tired of being paranoid whenever a person behind you sneezes. You are tired of your elbow becoming so hard because that’s what you use to press all the outdoor buttons.

We are tired of living with so much caution. I mean people are tired. That’s why I said this message is fitting because something is inside of you that is causing you to worry non-stop. It’s causing you to be judgmental towards other people. That’s why I pray that this message will encourage you to regularly check yourself from within.

Today, I want to preach the simple message, Check your heart.

Imagine someone who is doing the right religious routines on the outside—he goes to church, reads his Bible, prays his prayers.

So, everyone says, “That guy is close to God.”

But in reality, deep inside, he’s far from God. His heart is blocked by evil. Because of the calcified deposits of pride, selfishness, lust, and greed in his spiritual arteries, God’s Love cannot flow in and out of his life.

And when God’s Love cannot enter our heart, our life is in mortal danger.

I pray today’s Feast won’t just be another talk you listen to. I pray you experience a powerful soul surgery.

I pray God performs a heart bypass where He restores the flow of His Healing Love into your life. In Jesus’ name!

Tip of the Iceberg

Let’s begin: “Some Pharisees and teachers of religious law now arrived from Jerusalem to see Jesus.” (v.1)

This was big. In the previous chapters, Jesus had disputes with religious leaders, but they were all local guys. Now, Jerusalem sent their leaders. From Head Office!

“They asked him, 2 ‘Why do your disciples disobey our age-old tradition? For they ignore our tradition of ceremonial hand washing before they eat.’” (v.2)

They were talking about their Purity Laws. You can’t touch a leper— but Jesus did that. You can’t touch a woman having her period– but He was touched by one who was bleeding for 12 years. You can’t hang out with Gentiles– but He just did

So, hand-washing was just the tip of the iceberg.

Let me tell you how crazy, for us, their Purity Laws were. They believed that the very dust that a Gentile steps on is unclean. Thus, they needed an elaborate system of washing– just in case those dust particles touched them.

Please know that there’s a lot of good in hand-washing. In today’s COVID world, frequent hand-washing is our first line of defense.

Here’s trivia from history: In 14th century Europe, as millions were dying from the black plague, people were looking for someone to blame. And they blamed the Jews because they were not getting sick like the rest of the population. So, they killed thousands. In Strasbourg alone, 2,000 Jews were burned alive. (There’s nothing new– with “Asian hate” in the United States today.)

But some historians believe that the reason behind the Jews not getting sick was their hand-washing rituals.

So, the problem was not hand-washing per se.

The problem was their distorted priorities.

Picture this fictitious tale. Two neighbors, Nebuchadnezzar and Samuel, are found guilty of violating God’s Law. Nebu is rich and Sam is poor. Nebu owns 5,000 sheep while Sam has only one sheep in his backyard.

How does Nebu break the Law? Nebu, who already owns 5,000 sheep, steals Sam’s only sheep. What a cruel, heartless man.

How did Sam break the Law? Sam didn’t do the hand-washing thingy because his mind was preoccupied how to find food for his kids.

In the eyes of the religious leaders of that time, both Nebu and Sam are guilty of God’s Law and deserve to be punished. One stole and the other didn’t wash his hands. I know it sounds preposterous but that’s the poison of legalism.

Here’s the reality: If everything is important, nothing is important.

I believe this is the most common weakness of religious people.

We major in minor things. If we major in minor things, we forget the major things. We lose sight of what it’s all about.

Ask: What’s It All About?

So, what were the major things? Jesus spotlighted them: “Jesus replied, ‘And why do you, by your traditions, violate the direct commandments of God? 4For instance, God says, ‘Honor your father and mother,’ and ‘Anyone who speaks disrespectfully of father or mother must be put to death.’ 5But you say it is all right for people to say to their parents, ‘Sorry, I can’t help you. For I have vowed to give to God what I would have given to you.’ 6 In this way, you say they don’t need to honor their parents. And so, you cancel the word of God for the sake of your own tradition.’” (v.3-6)

Here’s the backstory. Let’s say your parents lost their jobs, became poor, and so, they ask you, “Son, your Mom and I need a little help. Do you have money to buy medicines?”

But for some reason, you’re angry at them. Maybe they were not good parents. In their religious system, you can actually make a religious vow where you consecrate all your possessions to God.

You can then say to them, “Sorry, can’t help you. All I have now belongs to God.”

But a few days later, your conscience bothers you. You decide you want to help your parents, after all.

So, you go to the Pharisees and ask,“May I help Mom and Dad?”

The religious leaders would say, “Nope, you can’t. A vow is a vow.”

That’s what Jesus was so angry about. Because of their legalism, they were blind to what was really important—which, in this case, was loving one’s parents.

That’s why Jesus quotes the Old Testament Prophet: You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you, for he wrote. 8 ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. 9Their worship is a farce. for they teach man-made ideas as commands from God.’” (v.7-9)

Jesus isn’t preaching something new. Legalism is an ancient problem, and 800 years ago, the Prophets were saying the same thing.

Today, I believe God wants us to ask: Is our worship fake? Every church, every religious group, and every religious person must ask this jarring question every day. We can be deceiving ourselves.

Jesus is asking us today, “Check your heart.”

May I talk to my fellow religious leaders? Why do we insist on external metrics? Big reason: We want control. Because of those external metrics, we can say who’s in and who’s out. But the problem is that we’ll all easily fall into spiritual pride.

Check your heart. Do you have calcified deposits of pride, selfishness, greed, lust in your heart?

In the next verse, Jesus tells how to check your heart.

I wish I can call out Bro. Bo next. As many of you already know this, that he and his family contracted COVID recently. (As of this writing they are still recovering) so please let’s continue to pray for all of them. Get well soon Team Sanchez. We miss you!

How To Check Your Heart

Let’s go back to our text. We are talking about the importance of having a sincere heart and so, Jesus adds a little more color by explaining what He means by all of these.

Jesus dives into the crux of the matter: “It’s not what goes into your mouth that defiles you…

Remember, Jews had a long list of food that were unclean. Pigs. Crabs. Shrimp. Shells. If you’re a Jew, no gambas and bacon and buttered oysters
and crispy lechon for you…

…you are defiled by the words that come out of your mouth. (Let’s skip to verse 17) Anything you eat passes through the stomach and then goes into the sewer. 18But the words you speak come from the heart—that’s what defiles you’” (v.11,17-18)

Jesus shows the indelible connection between your words and your heart. How do you check your heart?

Check your words.
Because your words reveal your heart.

Not the words you use when
you’re praying. That’s easy to fake.

Check your words not when you’re praying, but when you’re living.

Every single day.

When you’re talking to your spouse. Your children. Your helper.

When you’re talking to the slow waiter in the restaurant. The undisciplined drivers on the street.

The girl who’s gossiping against you.

You Leak Out Whatever Is Inside You

Let me tell you an old story.

One day, a group of frogs were travelling in the woods. Alas, two of them fell into a deep pit. All the other frogs gathered on top, saw how deep the pit was, and shouted to the two frogs below, “This is impossible You’ll die there.”

The two frogs ignored the comments and tried to jump out of the pit. But the group of frogs kept telling them, “Give up. It’s useless. You’re just wasting your energy. Accept your fate and die.”

One frog took heed of what the other frogs were saying and gave up. He stopped climbing and dropped dead. But the second frog continued to climb as hard as he could.

Once again, the other frogs kept yelling at him, “Just stop! Die like the other frog.”

But he kept trying and trying. And lo and behold, he was able to reach the very top and get out. All the frogs were shocked.

They asked him, “Didn’t you hear us? We told you to give up!”

He shook his head, smiling, “I’m sorry, I’m deaf. I didn’t understand what you were saying. But thanks so much for cheering me on!”

Proverbs say, “The tongue can bring death or life.” (18:21 NLT)

Please be careful with your words. They can kill or give life.

But where do our words come from?

Truth: You leak out whatever is inside you.

Do you give life or death through your words?

You’ll Give What’s Inside You

In another part of the Bible, James talks about our tongue: “Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. 10And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right!” (James 3:9-10 NLT).

You know what, I’ve seen persons live the trauma of being verbally assaulted and verbally violated by people– especially loved ones. And I don’t even have to look very far for an example.

I was a victim of verbal assault when I was growing up. I was called many names—bobo (dumb), tanga (stupid), tamad (lazy), walang kwenta (good for nothing), pangit (ugly). But we all know the last one is not true…

Check your words my dear friends. Let your words build life and not destroy life. Let your words heal and not harm, not hurt.

Ask the Lord to give you His heart. A heart that’s humble. A heart that’s selfless and gentle and repentant.

Today, God wants you to undergo a spiritual X-ray.

Check your heart.

Approach Him in humility.

And undergo soul surgery.

Let God’s Love scrape off the evil from your spiritual arteries.

Let His Love flow!

Let’s bow before the Presence of God and let’s pray…

Father in Heaven, thank You for these beautiful words.

Father, we open our heart to you so that You can do your spiritual surgery on us. Remove all the blockages that are causing us to sin and remind us that we belong to You. We give You our heart even if it’s broken, even if it is weak. We give You our whole heart and so, have our heart, Jesus.

Come and take over our life. In Your Name, we pray. Amen.


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