Matthew 15:1-3 Then came to Jesus scribes and Pharisees, which were of Jerusalem, saying,  Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread.  But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?
I have been thinking a lot lately about STANDARDS.
When I was in the Air Force we were taught about STANDARDS.
In Basic Training there was a STANDARD.
We were taught that it didn’t matter how we FELT, but there was a certain way our clothes were to be folded. We all had to run – in marching order – a certain distance. We all had to climb and overcome certain obstacles. We didn’t tell the Drill Instructor “We just don’t FEEL like this today” or “I was born this way, so it’s natural”. I entered Basic Training with hair down my back, weighing well over 300 pounds. Eight weeks later I was with short hair, less than 170 pounds soaking wet, and able to run a three mile obstacle course. STANDARDS.
I started my military career in Food Services. Contrary to what you might see on television or in the movies, Food Services had STANDARDS. Food was cooked a certain way, stored a certain way, presented a certain way. Inspectors came in periodically and had us touch gelatin in a Petrie Dish, testing the cleanliness of our hands. If stuff began growing in that Petrie Dish you got a verbal, then a written REPRIMAND. Unclean hands and improperly prepared food could kill people. There were STANDARDS. Some young men and women spent time in CORRECTIONAL CUSTODY because they did not meet the STANDARDS. There was a STANDARD, and you maintained it. You didn’t blame others if you didn’t meet the STANDARD, you got it together or got out of the Service dishonorably. We maintained STANDARDS.
After 8 years in the Air Force they placed me in another career field called Electronic Warfare. We worked with highly classified equipment designed to protect the aircraft from enemy fire. Were there STANDARDS? You bet there were.
There were STANDARDS on how we handled and spoke of classified information.
There were STANDARDS on how we worked on aircraft.
Inspectors would come to the flight line and see if we repaired the aircraft according to the STANDARD. If it was not we not only had to redo the repair, but the person responsible was given a written reprimand that had to be explained to the Commander. Wires had to be ran – and repaired – certain ways. There was no excuses made. You couldn’t tell the Commander “Well, I FELT like” because he would burn your house down.
Illustrate One young man I used to know mishandled classified information. The last I saw of him was when two men in suits came, handcuffed him, and took him away from the workcenter in a black limousine. His last words that I heard were “Well I THOUGHT …”. They didn’t care what he thought. There are STANDARDS.
STANDARDS are everywhere.
There are STANDARDS in the medical field.
There are STANDARDS in law enforcement.
There are STANDARDS in business.
Even Garbage Collection people have STANDARDS.
Stores have STANDARDS.
Mechanics have STANDARDS.
One comedian I know told how he took his truck to Sear’s Automotive to get new tires. He said as he drove away he got about two blocks from the store when his tires fell off. They fell off! The mechanic never put the wheel lugs back on. The comedian is in the process of suing Sears for misconduct. There are STANDARDS.
There are STANDARDS IN GOD’S KINGDOM. God sets STANDARDS for His people.
God’s Standards are always greater than man’s standards.
One day the Pharisees – always seeking to find fault with Jesus – noticed that His disciples were not washing their hands before they ate bread. They asked Jesus:
Matthew 15:2 Why do thy disciples transgress the TRADITION of the ELDERS? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread.
Their question was an interesting one.
They were not asking Jesus “Why are Your disciples disobeying GOD’S WORD”.
They were asking
“Why are Your disciples disobeying the TRADITION OF THE ELDERS”?
Over time the leaders of Israel had come up with standards that they thought every person should live by. One of those standards was to wash your hands before eating bread.
So why did Jesus allow His disciples to break these man made standards?
Let me be quick to point out that man-made standards are NOT bad.
Jesus never said that man-made standards were bad per se.
Jesus responded Matthew 15:3 …. Why do ye ALSO transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?
Jesus said “My disciples might be breaking a man made standard, but why do YOU break a STANDARD OF GOD?” The highest STANDARD is the COMMANDMENT OF GOD.
Man made standards are fine and are many times
necessary to maintain a civil society.
Man made standards protect people.
In the Air Forces the SANITATION STANDARDS and FOOD PREPARATION STANDARDS protected the people we served from getting sick. The Air Force could be paralyzed if Food Service Standards were not maintained. On the flight line STANDARDS in equipment repair insured that our Pilots were not killed by our own hands. A loose bolt could become a piece of shrapnel in the fast flying F-16 or F-4 aircraft. A loose canon plug could flop a hole in the side of a Bomber, scrapping the mission. Improper handling of classified materials can and does compromise our ability to protect our citizens. A loose high microwave plug can cause a technician to be poisoned with radiation.
Man made standards are not bad things AS LONG AS THEY DO NOT TRANSGRESS THE HIGHEST STANDARD, the Commandment of God.
The Pharisees transgressed the Highest Standard by their man made standards. Jesus told them:
Matthew 15:4-6 For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death.  But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me;  And honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have YE MADE THE COMMANDMENT OF GOD OF NONE EFFECT BY YOUR TRADITION.
What is Jesus talking about here?
He is talking about tithes and offerings.
God has a STANDARD in Giving.
God tells us in Malachi: Malachi 3:8-10 (ESV) Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. But you say, ‘How have we robbed you?’ In your tithes and contributions. 9 You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me, the whole nation of you. 10 Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the LORD of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.
If You Have Received God’s Gift
God Expects YOU To Give
God expects His to give of their income, to support His Kingdom on the earth. The lights that are burning, the heating and cooling, the water and electricity are not donated to God’s Church by CWPS (Columbia Water And Power System). From the hymnals to the pews, everything you see, and everything you DON’T see (insurance, alarm systems) cost funds to maintain.
But you ALSO have to obey the WORD OF GOD.
Paying the tithe and offering does not remove from the Christian OBEDIENCE
to the OTHER COMMANDS.
This is what the Pharisees were doing.
The Bible says in the Fifth Commandment that we are to “Honor your Father and Mother” (Exodus 20:12). This means forever! As our parents grow older we are STILL to honor them.
I have mowed the grass of in widow’s yards because their children would not do it.
That is a travesty! Parents are to be honored as long as they live. The Pharisees were supposed to take care of their aging parents. But when it came time to financially support them, the Pharisees refused to do so. Why? They said:
The money we have set aside is a GIFT to God’s Temple.
We can’t TITHE and TAKE CARE of our parents as well.
So they let their parents suffer. The reality is that God has promised to bless those who – keeping the standard – help contribute both time and funds to His Kingdom. But the follower of God also expects His Kingdom People to DO HIS WORD. We are to keep His Commandments, not seek loopholes by which we can avoid His Commandments.
God’s Kingdom has STANDARDS.
STANDARDS in Giving.
STANDARDS in Living.
Those Who Try To Manipulate God’s Standards Are Hypocrites
No part of the Word of God abrogates another part of the Word of God. God’s Standard is LOVE. Love God, love one another. Jesus told the Pharisees:
Matthew 15:7-9 Ye HYPOCRITES, well did Isaiah prophesy of you, saying,  This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.  But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.
God wants our MOUTH and our HEART to both be dedicated to worshiping and loving Him. When your MOUTH honors God but your HEART dishonors God, this is hypocrisy. Jesus knows those that are HIS, and Jesus knows them that are HYPOCRITES.
The Pharisees are HYPOCRITES. They reject the STANDARD of God in their hearts while looking like they are following the STANDARD OUTWARDLY. Jesus called these Pharisees out before.
They GAVE TITHES To Be Seen Of Men Matthew 6:2 Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
They PRAYED To Be Seen Of Men Matthew 6:5 And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
They FASTED To Be Seen Of Men Matthew 6:16 Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
The hypocrites were not living in God’s Kingdom to please God. They were pretenders. Their hearts were far from God, but outwardly they looked oh so good!
We Are Called To Be HOLY Not HYPOCRITES
Our HEARTS Are To Be God Focused!
Matthew 15:10-11 And he called the multitude, and said unto them, Hear, and understand:  Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man.
Doctors and nutrition specialists all have a number of foods that we can eat that is supposed to be unhealthy for us. At various times we have been told that the following things were bad for you but are now considered good food – if eaten in moderation:
Foods with FAT
Every one of these foods have – at one time in my lifetime – been said to be bad for you. Chocolate with high cocoa content produces probiotics, which helps your digestive system. Coffee boosts metabolism and helps ward off diabetes. Coconut oil lowers your risk of heart disease. Whole milk – according to the European Journal Of Nutrition – wards off cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. The World Health Organization (WHO?) said bacon and other processed meats can give you cancer. Now nutritionists say bacon is a great source of protein and heart healthy monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAS).
But what does Jesus say? Jesus says “What goes IN the mouth is not what defiles us, but what comes OUT of the mouth”. His disciples told Jesus:
Don’t You know that You offended the Pharisees?
Do you know what Jesus said? He said “Quick, go invite them back to Church. We don’t want to lose them. Go make a deal with them because we need them!” Did Jesus say that? No! Jesus said:
Matthew 15:13-14 …. Every plant, which MY HEAVENLY FATHER HATH NOT PLANTED, SHALL BE ROOTED UP.  LET THEM ALONE: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.
Those who will not stick with the STANDARD of God should not be chased after. People who are ME focused do not need to be pursued.
The Church is God’s Garden
You are God’s Garden, You are God’s Building
(See 1 Corinthians 3:9)
The Pharisees may have been angered. They may have stomped off. DO NOT CHASE THEM. If God did not plant them in His Church, let them go. So often in my ministry people have stomped off, refusing to follow God’s Standard, and well meaning members have gone and out begged them to come back. STOP IT! I love everyone, and try to love everyone equally. But if a person is determined to reject the STANDARD OF GOD as presented in the Scripture then let them go. Neither I nor you are to PLANT anyone into God’s Kingdom. God adds daily to the Church – you and I are just to SOW THE SEED and TRUST GOD!
1 Corinthians 12:18 (NKJV) … GOD HAS SET THE MEMBERS, each one of them, in the body JUST AS HE PLEASED.
If God sets someone in His Garden then that person will stay. If God does NOT set that plant in the Garden of God, then it shall be rooted up. Those Who are God’s maintain GOD’S STANDARDS – period!
Where Is Your Heart?
Declare Unto Us This Parable
Peter was never shy about asking Jesus questions, so he asked Jesus:
Lord, will You explain this parable to us?
Jesus didn’t hesitate: Matthew 15:17-20 Do not ye yet understand, that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught?  But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man.  For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies:  These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man.
The UNCONVERTED HEART is what defiles a person.
The heart that is worldly breaks the heart of God.
The heart filled with …
Do you notice something about this list? Every one of the things Jesus mentions except false witness are PLURAL. Sin is PLURAL. There is never just ONE evil thought, but MANY. When sin starts in the heart focused on sin, it produces evil after evil. If your heart is no focused GODWARD it is focused HELLWARD.
Your heart must be dedicated to God.
God’s standard is very simple.
Jesus said: Matthew 22:37-40 (NKJV) … You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.
On these two commandments HANG all the Law and the Prophets. This is God’s standard. Jesus Christ came and HUNG on a Tree, dying for our sins, showing us what love is. Love is focusing your heart on pleasing God the Father. To love the Lord My God with ALL my soul, ALL my heart, ALL my mind. If my ALL is focused on pleasing God then those terrible, strange fruit
will not be in my life. Every Child of God is part of God’s Garden, and the fruit of our lives is to be LOVE. Love to God. Love to our neighbor. We are to love our neighbor AS OURSELF. The heart dedicated to God applies God’s Standard.
Do you know Jesus?
Are You saved of Him?
If so, you are God’s plant.
Live to produce His fruit,
For His glory and His Kingdom.
May God touch your hearts with His Word!