Matthew 15:8-9 8” ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. 9They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.
Sometimes it’s easy to say all the right things. “Praise God! I’m blessed! Hallelujah! Thank you Lord. I love you God” Our lips are much easier to discipline than our hearts are. Jesus quoted from Isaiah these words to the Pharisees. These were people who (on the outside) had their faith all together. Not only did they go to church, but they were at the Wednesday night prayer meeting, the Saturday evening service and both services on Sunday. They LOVED following the rules. The more rules, the happier they were because it gave them that many more opportunities to showcase just how spiritual they were. They dressed the right way, talked the right way, walked the right way, even ate their food the right way – but Christ said it was all in vain, because their hearts were all wrong.
In the next chapter in Matthew, Jesus warns his disciples about the “yeast of the Pharisees”. As a baker lady, I love hearing the Lord discuss stuff like this. Here’s the amazing thing about yeast. Yeast cells reproduce very rapidly no matter where they are. This reproduction goes on through a process called budding. In budding, each tiny cell swells, and soon the swollen part separates from the main cell. The new tiny cell then goes on to grow to full size on its own and the budding process continues to repeat itself. You can see this process if you’ve ever made bread. You put your yeast (tiny granules) into some warm milk to get the budding process going. An enzyme kicks in when you add your yeast to flour, changing the starch into sugar. Then some more enzymes take over, turning the sugar into alcohol and carbon dioxide, which spreads thru the dough as bubbles. The heat of your oven causes the alcohol to evaporate, bubbles break, and you get tiny air pockets which make for dee-licious, light fluffy bread. Still with me? Good.
The yeast process is amazing for airy, melt in your mouth dinner rolls – but not so good when we’re talking about heart attitudes. Jesus saw all the damage hypocritical demonstrative obedience was causing in the lives of the Pharisees. Those air pockets that are so good for bread had made their lives look beautifully risen and golden brown. Delicious looking from the outside. But their hearts were hole filled and empty. There was no substance, no strength. Yeast bread is incredibly delicate. When you push on a fresh loaf, it collapses. When we build our worth on the yeast of rules, any pressure will destroy us.
The Lord did not want to see a tiny granule of lip-honoring, vain-rule-following-yeast start to blossom in the lives of His disciples. He warned them to protect themselves. We should follow His advice. If we allow our minds to think for one second that anything we do (or refrain from doing) is somehow going to get us more loved by God – the yeast has started its work.
Today, I chose to build my foundation on the fact that I’m broken. And Jesus loves me anyway. I don’t want a puffed up flaky dinner roll life. I want substance. I want a heart that longs for the Lord and wants to be pleasing and honoring to Him. So Lord, help me not to follow a life built on the yeast of rules. Show me how to transform my heart and simply love You.