Isaiah 29:13 The Lord says: “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men.
One day, a number of years ago at work, I began experiencing significant chest pain. My staff wanted me to go to the hospital and get checked over. I thought I was going to be okay and refused. They insisted that I call my wife Donna. So I did and she told me just what they did – but I stubbornly insisted that I was okay.
A few minutes later my oldest son John called me in response to Donna’s call to him. He had been a paramedic. I’ll never forget his lovingly blunt words to me. He said, “Dad. There are two symptoms you never ignore: a pregnant lady having contractions and a guy your age with chest pain. Get to the hospital – NOW!”
So my staff took me to the hospital and over two days I went through a bunch of tests. The good news was – no heart problem. Every test came out good. But John’s advice was still right on. My stubbornness and lack of grasping the obvious could have cost me my life.
Chest pains and contractions are kind of hard to be unaware of. They might be ignored for awhile but as they intensify, they sure can interrupt things. Today’s verse is just as serious but is much more subtle. It describes a deadly condition that we as God’s people can have and yet be blind to. This verse is one that I have identified on my “Oh Jesus – keep me from this!” list.
There are many descriptions in Scripture of what to avoid but there are some – and today’s verse is one – that are particularly foreboding. It describes God’s people as living in deception. They think they are pleasing to Him but they’re not. Their words and outward actions are rendered meaningless because of their hearts.
In the New Testament (Revelation 2 & 3), think of the letters to the Churches in Laodicea and Ephesus. The Laodiceans thought they were rich, but Jesus considered them “wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked” – worthy of being spit out of His mouth! The Ephesians were doing many things right, but Jesus charged them with having left their first love. He commanded them to repent.
Unfortunately, the same things can and do happen to His people today. “Oh Jesus – keep us from this!” May we never give our Lord lip service, with our hearts far from Him. May our hearts be truly His with our lives living examples of a people who are truly rich in Him. Most of all, may Jesus be our first love – with us learning how and then loving Him more and more with each passing day!1