“ ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.’” -- Matthew 15:8-9
Rules! Ah yes, families, businesses, missions and ministries have all started with heartfelt dreams and great passion. The early days were so simple and quite exciting. But as the years passed rules came into the picture. There were rules to prevent errors, rules to promote success, rules to preserve safety and rules to produce harmony. Over the years the passion was lost and the list of rules became the major goal. The heart was replaced with rules.
The Lord reminded the Pharisees of what they lost and what they had become. They lost their heartfelt desire for God and turned their attention to man-made rules. They spent so much time splitting hairs over the legalism of their teachings, that they lost sight of their love for God and his love for them. The passion was lost and their list of rules was all that was left. The heart was replaced with rules.
While the Bible certainly has rules to live by, man-made rules are a very different story. God's rules are intended to protect us from all that would draw us away from him. They are given to help us grow more in love with him and have a stronger spiritual walk. God's rules are heart strengthening, while men's rules are heartbreaking. May we always remember our first love for the Lord and never allow the rules of men to replace our hearts.