Lord help me to be “authentically righteous” – “inside-out!”

Can you imagine hearing God speak these words to you? …

“I hate, I despise your feasts, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies. Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them; and the peace offerings of your fattened animals, I will not look upon them. Take away from me the noise of your songs; to the melody of your harps I will not listen. But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.”  (From Amos 5:21-24)

Ouch!  Scary eh? And all along you thought you were OK – You’ve been a religious person after all!  You go to church regularly (in fact you’re an upstanding member), you give when the offering plate goes by, and compared to many people in your community you’re considered a person who exhibits two “R’s” – you’re “religious and righteous!”

Amos, the prophet, inspired by the Holy Spirit, told some self-righteous Jews that God was not impressed with their religious gatherings, their sacrifices, or their liturgy!  He examined their heart and was concerned about their behavior on the other six days of the week besides their “sabbath!” – He was concerned about how they treated their “neighbor!”

Jesus told the story of two guys praying… One was a self-righteous, hyper-religious Pharisee, the other a sinful Publican (a tax-collector)… The Pharisee prayed like this: “God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.  I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.”  But the tax collector would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!” Then Jesus said, “I tell you, this man went down to his house justified [right with God], rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” (From Luke 18:11-14)

Gotta tell you, nothing has changed!  Some of the biggest hypocrites in the world are religious people!  It makes God both sick and angry!  Jesus called them “whitened sepulchers” (whitewashed graves)!  After reading this passage this morning during my devotions my heart personally cried out and echoed the words of Amos… Oh, Lord in MY LIFE “may justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.”  Help me to be authentically righteous – “inside-out!”

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