Sermon on Mark
7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23 - Creeds or Deeds?
Rev. David Chadwell posed a rather interesting question: Which would you prefer
for a next-door neighbor: a person of excellent habits or a person with a good
heart? Which would you prefer for a good friend: a person of excellent habits,
or a person with a good heart? Which would you prefer for a husband or a wife: a
person of excellent habits, or a person with a good heart? Which would you
prefer for a child: a child with excellent habits, or a child with a good heart?
It is wonderful to have a neighbor who conscientiously cares for his property
while respecting your property. It is wonderful to have a friend who always
treats you with consideration. It is wonderful to be married to a husband who
always is thoughtful and courteous, or to a wife who always is gracious in her
comments and deeds. It is wonderful to have a son or daughter who shows respect
and uses good manners.
As wonderful as those situations are, none of them compare to having a neighbor,
a friend, a husband, a wife, a son, or a daughter with a good heart.
When you discuss good behavior, you are discussing the quality of a person's
self-control. When you discuss a good heart, you are discussing the quality of
This is the focus of todayís Scripture. Pharisees and teachers have come down
from Jerusalem and, interestingly, they are gathered around Jesus watching the
disciples. The disciples, it seems, are eating lunch. They have come in from the
dayís work. Too tired and too hungry to care that their hands and faces were
dirty, they immediately sat down to eat without washing.
The Pharisees cease upon this ceremonial oversight and question Jesus: Why donít
your disciples live according to the traditions of the elders and clean their
hands before they eat? This is all that Jesus needs to hear. He sticks up for
his disciples, turns on these teachers and says in essence, "Why do you not live
according to the traditions of God and clean your hearts?"
What mistake did these Pharisees make? What is Jesus trying to convey, not only
to them, but to us as well. For you see, it is just as easy for us to fall into
a good habit and leave behind a good heart. What is Jesus' warning to us?
We prefer creeds rather than deeds.
We look at the outside not the inside.
But God requires good Creeds, Deeds, and Hearts.
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