Mark 7:8

Verse of the Day Devotion: Mark 7:8

“Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men.” – Mark 7:8 

Some Pharisees and scribes gathered around Jesus when He and the disciples left Jerusalem.  Both groups were very legalistic and demanded that the Law be followed completely.  As they were watching, they noticed the disciples did not wash their hands prior to eating, thus not following the traditions of the elders.  “For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they carefully wash their hands, thus observing the traditions of the elders; and when they come from the market place, they do not eat unless they cleanse themselves; and there are many other things which they have received in order to observe, such as the washing of cups and pitchers and copper pots.”  Mark 7:3-4.  They required a lot of work to remain pure when eating.

So, the Pharisees and the scribes questioned Jesus regarding these rules, because they were not walking according to tradition.  However, Jesus does not apologize to them on behalf of the disciples.  Instead, He rebukes the Pharisees and scribes.  We read later in the chapter, “And He said to them, “Rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: ‘This people honor me with their lips, but their heart is far away from me.  But in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.’”  Mark 6-7.  Jesus was speaking of Isaiah 29:13 where it says. “Then the Lord said, “Because this people draw near with their words and honor Me with their lip service, But they remove their hearts far from Me, And their reverence for Me consists of tradition learned by rote,

Jesus then continues by telling them, in our focus verse, that they are neglecting the commands of God and replacing them with the traditions of men.  He then gives the example of how the commandment ‘honor your father and mother, and He who speaks evil of them is to be put to death.  And how, due to their traditions, “but you say, ‘If a man says to his father or his mother, whatever I have that would help you is Corban (that is to say, given to God),‘ you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or his mother; thus invalidating the word of God by your tradition which you have handed down; and you do many things such as that.’”  Mark 7:11-13.

We need to look at the things we see and hear from Christian and church leadership, test them by comparing them with what the scriptures say, and ignore them if they counter what the Word of God says.  Note, it is important to make sure it is a reliable translation.  Many times, these weird and heretical teachings are the “traditions’ within churches or denominations that need to be called out, renounced and ignored.  One very recent example was a Pastor in north Atlanta, I will leave the name off, who taught his church to ignore the Old Testament and focus solely on the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  While this sounds reasonable, it is not right.  The Old Testament lays the foundation of why we need salvation, and that Jesus’ coming was ordained from the beginning.  Both testaments together are a complete story of God’s love toward us.  Plus, if Jesus and the apostles quoted it many times, were they wrong, and did they not totally understand?  I doubt it seriously.

We need to be careful that we do not accept traditions that contradict the scriptures. Too many times, and I will say once is too many, church leaders try to make Christianity easier by teaching things that are accepted in the culture today but are radically different from the commands of God.  We need ensure that what we teach is real and does not counter His Word, for we will be held accountable.  “Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment.”  James 3:1.  The Pharisees and the scribes were not given leniency, and neither will we. William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries, Inc.

Hebrews 10:25

Verse of the Day Devotion: Hebrews 10:25 

“Not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” – Hebrews 10:25 

Throughout the new testament the gathering together with fellow believers was deemed an important thing to do.  Why is this important?  The writer of Hebrews tells us,  “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works”   Hebrews 10:23-24.  Here, he is encouraging believers to stand firm in the faith.  During the time of this writing, the church was experiencing strong persecution.  The writer is encouraging them not to give up but remain faithful to God.  He is faithful in His promises to them, promises which include always being with them, and when all this is over, they shall receive eternal life.   

I am sure that there were some who were weak and struggled during this time of trial.  Therefore, in the next verse we read, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works,” Hebrews 10:24.  What he is saying is there is a need to work with fellow believers, especially those who are new believers, encouraging them to persevere in their Christian walk.  The idea is that much can be accomplished in securing perseverance and continuation in the faith by mutual and loving exhortation.  They were not to be arrogant, nor be selfish and look only at their own interests, but were to, in kindness, address the needs and concerns of each other.  They were experiencing the same trials; however, some were stronger than others.  Those who were stronger should endeavor to strengthen those who were not as strong, helping and encouraging them in the Lord and in the work they were called to.  “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”  Philippians 2:3-4.

Therefore, it is important that we meet together regularly, both in public and private settings, to encourage each other to grow in the fear and instruction of the Lord.   As our focus verse says, we are not to neglect getting together with our fellow Christians.  Too often Christians, and I am sad to say, many churches, do not follow this idea.  We must make ourselves available to get to know our brothers and sisters in Christ so that we can help them during difficult times.  And get to know them Intimately, not just in a superficial way.  They must know they can trust us if they are going to listen to us and share with us.  And the reason for this is found in the last part of our focus verse, “and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” Hebrews 10:25b.  As persecution against Christians grow, we all are going to need each other to encourage us to remain strong.  I am going to need all of you, and you are going to need all of us. 

I want to exhort all of us to make time to get together with our brothers and sisters in Christ.  We need each other, and all the more as the end approaches.  There are many of us who struggle and do not find it easy to share with just anybody.  And who is to say that each of us is not that one person for someone out there?  We must make it a point to be ready to help and encourage all who need our help during tough times.  Many, when in weakness, begin to question their faith.  Peter, in his first epistle, told us what we must do.  “But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.” 1 Peter 3:14-16. 

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.