Words often reveal the condition of our hearts (Luke 6:45). However, there are other times in which we use our words to conceal how we truly feel. This can happen both in our relationships with other people and with God.
In Isaiah 29:13-14, the prophet Isaiah reveals a disturbing truth about the people of God in his day. They were religious people who were good at going through the motions of worship. They said all of the right things. However, their words were inconsistent with the true condition of their hearts. To a casual observer,it may have seemed that they were very devout people, but in reality, their hearts were far from God.
Jesus leveled this same charge against some of the Pharisees and scribes of his own day (Matthew 15:1-9).They taught the people to adhere to a system of religious rules based on human tradition that produced an appearance of godliness. These traditions eventually became so important to the scribes and Pharisees that they encouraged people to observe these traditions even if it meant transgressing God’s commands. Much like the people of Isaiah’s day, the scribes and Pharisees honored God with their lips, but their hearts were far from Him.
These passages in Isaiah and Matthew serve as powerful reminders of the truth that God is very concerned with the condition of our hearts. We must be careful to continually seek to grow in our love for the Lord and for other people and allow this love to be the motivation for our acts of worship. If we do not, we may find ourselves going through the motions of religion, while our hearts are far from God. As you read the Bible,attend worship and Bible studies, and serve others in the name of Christ, ask the Lord to continually give you a heart full of love for Him. May God graciously allow us to be followers of Christ whose lives are consistent with the condition of our hearts.
Isaiah 29:13-24 (ESV):
And the Lord said:
“Because this people draw near with their mouth
and honor me with their lips,
while their hearts are far from me,
and their fear of me is a commandment taught by men,
14 therefore, behold, I will again
do wonderful things with this people,
with wonder upon wonder;
and the wisdom of their wise men shall perish,
and the discernment of their discerning men shall be hidden.”
15 Ah, you who hide deep from the Lord your counsel,
whose deeds are in the dark,
and who say, “Who sees us? Who knows us?”
16 You turn things upside down!
Shall the potter be regarded as the clay,
that the thing made should say of its maker,
“He did not make me”;
or the thing formed say of him who formed it,
“He has no understanding”?
17 Is it not yet a very little while
until Lebanon shall be turned into a fruitful field,
and the fruitful field shall be regarded as a forest?
18 In that day the deaf shall hear
the words of a book,
and out of their gloom and darkness
the eyes of the blind shall see.
19 The meek shall obtain fresh joy in the Lord,
and the poor among mankind shall exult in the Holy One of Israel.
20 For the ruthless shall come to nothing
and the scoffer cease,
and all who watch to do evil shall be cut off,
21 who by a word make a man out to be an offender,
and lay a snare for him who reproves in the gate,
and with an empty plea turn aside him who is in the right.
22 Therefore thus says the Lord, who redeemed Abraham, concerning the house of Jacob:
“Jacob shall no more be ashamed,
no more shall his face grow pale.
23 For when he sees his children,
the work of my hands, in his midst,
they will sanctify my name;
they will sanctify the Holy One of Jacob
and will stand in awe of the God of Israel.
24 And those who go astray in spirit will come to understanding,
and those who murmur will accept instruction.”