We used to live right down the street from this impressive abby in Alsace, France. This abby was founded in 727 and has a past of glory, destruction and restoration. In the Middle Ages it was so rich and influential that it owned the entire city of Lucerne, Switzerland! As of 1841 the abby has been declared a national monument. Now, its two sandstone towers and beautiful grounds serve mainly as a draw for tourists.
Today’s verse is part of a warning given by the prophet, Jeremiah. The temple and all the trappings of ritual religion was for some Israelites their only claim to righteousness. Rather than obeying God, some were leaning and depending on deceptive words that reassured them that they were just fine. The temple and its magnificence was thought to be enough. Saying “the temple” three times did not make of their attendance a changed heart! They continued to flagrantly disobey with the mistaken notion that with following religious practices they could do as they pleased.
How influenced I can be by the outward show of religion! Deceptive words are attractive as they tell me I am fine with just the outward trapping of church. I can and do pat myself on the back for good church attendance, for regular giving and for many kinds of service to others. But I can miss the point, trusting in these activities rather than in God’s grace to me. It is only by His grace that my heart can be changed. In changing my heart, I find I want to obey Him, even when it’s hard.
Thank you Lord, for changing me from the inside out!