But when [John the Baptizer] saw many Pharisees and Sadducees coming to watch him baptize, he denounced them. "You brood of snakes!" he exclaimed. "Who warned you to flee the coming wrath? Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God. Don't just say to each other, 'We're safe, for we are descendants of Abraham.' That means nothing, for I tell you, God can create children of Abraham from these very stones. Even now the ax of God's judgment is poised, ready to sever the roots of the trees. Yes, every tree that does not produce good fruit will be chopped down and thrown into the fire."
— Matthew 3:7-10 NLT
So much of religion can be little more than posturing, passionate opinions, and religious pomp without much true substance. God, however, demands lives that are consistent with the words of our mouths. Just wearing robes, having titles, coming from a strong religious heritage, and liking to be recognized as religious, in and of themselves, simply don't count with Jesus. He wants to see the fruit of lives dedicated to him as God. In fact, Jesus uses terms of utmost derision for those claiming to be religious but not living righteously. He reserves the greatest punishment for those who take advantage of their religious positions. What counts with our Lord are lives that are true to God, not ones that merely look and sound religious.
Faithful and just God, thank you for being consistent and true. At times, dear Father, I find myself struggling to have the purest of motives and sincerest of commitments. Please forgive me when my faith is more about religious showy rituals and not about a changed daily lifestyle. Help me to be true to what I say I believe and not get caught up in religious pretensions. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.
Related Scripture Readings
- Matthew 23:2-7, 27-28
- James 1:22-24
- Matthew 7:24-27
Other Devotionals from Heartlight for Wednesday, January 20, 2021
About This Devotional
What Jesus Did! is a series of one-year devotional guides through each gospel, using one short scripture passage each day and following the Gospel in sequential order. Each devotional consists of a scripture passage and a reflection and a prayer which open up the day's scripture and show how it challenges you to live for Jesus.
What Jesus Did! is written by Phil Ware and is available in book form.
Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.