This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.
Remember the last time you tried to play a round of golf with the need to be finished by a set time to meet another commitment later in the evening? You constantly checked your phone for the time after every hole and made sure the wife hasn’t checked hers. How about playing after a fight with a spouse or having an issue with your child? When we aren’t entirely mentally into an activity requiring an intense focus, it is nearly impossible to succeed. Our outward motions indicate a desire to hit a golf ball, but inside our heart and mind is somewhere else.
Many times we catch our minds drifting into left field when we are listening to a sermon, trying to study scripture, or praying to the Lord. Our intentions are sincere and our actions are pure, but our heart is astray. In the scripture above, Jesus was addressing the religious leaders. They made objective motions of religiousness, but their hearts were far from in agreement. They knew scripture and even how many words were contained therein, but did not regard Jesus for who he really was. They knew the law and policy, but did not have the heart or desire to live the true meaning of God’s word.
Ironically, Jesus in Matthew 15:8 quoted Isaiah 28:13 to the Pharisees. They undoubtedly knew this scripture well. He labeled those who only gave “lip service” to God as “hypocrites.” This label is the one description we all attempt to avoid. Admittedly, however, we normally try and avoid this label with objective actions when God actually desires the subjective movement from the heart.
Sometimes our speech and actions give rise to religion, but have no meaning toward the Savior. Unless, we have a heart yearning to honor and praise the Lord, our outward motions are spiritually meaningless. There is no set formula for the correct praise and honor to be given to our Savior other than sincerity. God wants us to focus our internal rather than having any emphasis on our external image.