Right Words, Wrong Heart
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Today he's a respected Christian professional in our community. But legend has it that he had a strong streak of mischief in him when he was a boy, and maybe even now. An older friend from their church told me that when this man was four, his pastor came up to him at a football game and sat down next to him. And the pastor said, "Well, Mark, what have you been doing with yourself lately?" To which Mark replied with a smile, "Would you believe praying?" To which his pastor replied, "No, Mark, I wouldn't believe it." Smart pastor.
It doesn't take long to learn the right church answers, does it? Man, we know what to say. A four-year-old boy can do it! And many of us have been around a lot longer than that and we know the words to say. The danger is that you can really fool yourself spiritually, just because you know all the right words, and go to all the right meetings, and do all the right things. Tragically, a full Christian vocabulary can mask a dangerously empty heart.
Jesus talked about that in our word for today from the Word of God in Mark 7:6. He said of some deeply religious people, "These people honor Me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me." And you can be sure that getting into heaven will be based on what is in your heart, not on your lips. Your eternal rewards from Jesus will be also be based on what's in your heart, not your lips. Remember, "The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart" (1 Samuel 16:7).
Recently, we called some Native American Christian friends of ours whose daughter has been struggling with some serious moral issues and life issues. The daughter was willing to talk with my wife, but only in her mother's words, "after she puts her coat on." Now that expression was new to us. Our friend explained that Indians use that expression sometimes to describe saying what non-Indians want to hear. In other words, saying what you think the other person wants to hear.
Well a lot of church folks "put their coat on" regularly when they're in a Christian setting. After all, you can pretty much learn the vocabulary of Christianity in about a month, and that will be enough to get you through with most Christians for the rest of your life. It's not enough to get you through with God.
It's wise to stand back every once in a while and ask, "How much of my Christianity is really about Christ and how much is a mask, a role I'm playing, human expectations I'm trying to fulfill; just my church?" If there's been more than one you, the Christian you and then the other guys, maybe you're tired of playing charades spiritually, you're tired of the performance, you're tired of the mask. It's time to say, "Jesus, I've been saying all the right words, but You know how hollow it all is really and now so do I. I just want to love You and want to know You for real. I want this to be all about a Christ-relationship, not the Christian religion."
And if you've never really given yourself to Jesus, let this be the day that you move from playing a role to the reality of knowing this awesome Savior. Listen, if you're ready to begin this relationship for real, would you tell Him that? That's the important thing. And say, "Dear Jesus, I believe when You died on that cross, some of those sins you died for were mine. You have paid my death penalty. You walked out of your grave under your own power. You are alive. You can give me eternal life and I turn from the running of my own life, and I place the rest of my life completely in Your hands.
At that moment you go from the role to the reality. At that moment, you don't just know about Jesus, you know Him. At that moment, you're not just believing things about Jesus; you belong to Him.
We'd love to help you get there. That's what our website's for. I want to encourage you to check it out at your first opportunity today. It's YoursForLife.net. Or I'd be glad to send you my booklet Yours For Life at no cost if you'll call us toll free at 877-741-1200.
The words that really matter aren't the ones you say to men about Jesus; they're the ones you say to Jesus about being really His.
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