Stony Hearts, Hypocritical ‘Obedience’ – Luke 13:15-17

But the Lord answered him and said, “Hypocrites! Doesn’t each one of you untie his ox or donkey from the feeding trough on the Sabbath and lead it to water? Satan has bound this woman, a daughter of Abraham, for eighteen years — shouldn’t she be untied from this bondage on the Sabbath day? ”
When he had said these things, all his adversaries were humiliated, but the whole crowd was rejoicing over all the glorious things he was doing.

It is always easier and more natural to judge others than to judge ourselves. The higher standard always seems to apply to those with whom we disagree. This condemning spirit blinds us to our own ill motives and failings and deceives us into passing unfair judgement on others. The log in our own eye has become so large that the pressure on our brain causes us to make ungodly judgements of others. Our judgements are flawed and irrational. Our hearts become stony and cold.

Jesus addresses this Pharisaical definition of work and, even more so, addresses the stony heart of a legalistic ‘believer’. They have defined the word to fit their preconceived notions and personal convenience. It is not work to untie a donkey on the Sabbath in order to ride it; however, the ‘work of healing‘ must be avoided. What? How does a person reach a point of seeing important things in such a distorted fashion? The activity of untying a donkey in order to pursue trivial pursuits takes precedence over the healing of one of God’s children? Wow! Something is desperately wrong in the heart/mind of such a person. Bringing the goodness of God’s healing and love to others is never forbidden work. It is something we are called to encourage and participate in not judge and hinder.

We clearly see the awful effects of self-centered, legalistic blindness (pardon the pun, please). It turns good into evil, debilitates the one who holds such a perspective and abuses those who long to see. The glory and power of Jesus is that He reveals these actions and attitudes in our lives so that we can be free from them. His eyes are supernaturally clear so He is able to deftly and directly remove the logs from ours – if we will submit to such. He calls the hypocrite to account for their hypocrisy. He courageously points out the evil that owns our hearts. He is the Righteous Judge and all humanity will stand before Him in the end to answer for their word and actions here on earth. But, even now He stands before us daily directly confronting the evil hypocrisy in our hearts and calling out our legalistic tendencies. He seeks our best interest and, unlike myself, is not afraid to hurt our feelings in order to save our souls. He seeks to heal those around us and, at the very least, does not want His children hindering His work. This synagogue ruler should have been praising God for this miraculous sign. Instead, he was criticizing the Healer and sending away the hurting. May we never find ourselves in such a condition. The ramifications of such a mindset are more terrifying than we can imagine.

Examine our hearts, Lord, and remove any evil intention. Show us your ways clearly that we may walk in them. Break our stony hearts that we may have Christ’s tenderness toward the hurting and His courageous love toward the misguided, hard-hearted believer.

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