“True and Sincere Worship”
The love of money and the desire for power often corrupt even the best things in life. A cursory look at history and current day headlines reveals each of these sinful inclinations of the heart have led even the noblest of people to commit acts they once thought unimaginable. We regularly see the devastating effects of such abuses in the worlds of politics, athletics, business, higher education, and yes, even in communities of faith.
This was certainly the case in Jesus’ day. In Luke 19:45-48, we find Luke’s account of Jesus confronting those who had turned the Temple into a marketplace. The Lord intended for the Temple to be a place of prayer and sincere worship, but the religious leaders of Jesus’ day had turned it into a den of robbers. In quoting from the prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah when leveling charges against the money-changers, Jesus reveals the abuse that was happening in the Temple in his day was nothing new. Unfortunately, there have always been people who have distorted the worship of God for personal gain.
It would be easy for us to feel disdain for the money-changers and religious leaders of Jesus’ day or modern-day television preachers who convince viewers to send checks so they can finance their private planes. However, a more helpful approach to this passage might be for each of us to reflect on the motivations that undergird our own acts of devotion. Do we draw near to the Lord out of a sincere desire to know and worship Him or are we trying to give the appearance of religious zeal in hopes of winning the approval of others? Do we draw near to the Lord because want to develop a deeper relationship with Him, or are we going through the motions of religion in hopes that God will reward us with material blessings or positions of power? May the Lord reveal the true condition of our hearts so that we might increasingly be a community of faith who worships the Lord in spirit and in truth.
Luke 19:45-48 (ESV):
45 And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold, 46 saying to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a den of robbers.” 47 And he was teaching daily in the temple. The chief priests and the scribes and the principal men of the people were seeking to destroy him, 48 but they did not find anything they could do, for all the people were hanging on his words.