“‘This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far away from Me. But in vain do they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.’” (Matthew 15:8-9 NASB)
But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7 NASB)
In Matthew 15 we see Jesus rebuking the Pharisees for their hypocrisy. We may be quick to criticize them as well, until we hold the mirror up to our own hearts. It is so easy to fall into the trap of participating in religious activities, while simultaneously failing to love people sincerely. Being a disciple-maker cannot become just another religious activity. It can’t just be about winning people over to our side. It has to be motivated by an actual love for the people we are discipling.
This sounds obvious, and we might nod our heads in agreement, as if to say, “of course.” But our feelings about people may indicate something else entirely. Do you ever grow weary of other people’s insecurities or emotional neediness, or get tired of their struggle with the same sin? We’ve probably all been guilty of this at some point. But remembering the Lord’s kindness toward us, that “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us,” can bring us back to a place of compassion, and a heart of compassion is a heart close to the Lord.