THE WEEK OF TRINITY XIII – TUESDAY

LESSON: MATTHEW 23:27‒28

The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and sincere faith. 1 Timothy 1:5

God’s Law says to us, “You shall have no other gods before Me” (Exodus 20:3). “You” it says. It means you and all that you are. In particular, however, it means your heart, your soul, all our might. Nothing is said about the tongue, the hand, or the knees. It is really referring to your whole body and to everything that you have and are.

If I am to have no other gods before the one true God, it means that I must truly have the one true God in my heart, that is, I must love Him with my whole heart, always cling to Him, rely on Him, and trust Him. I must find joy and pleasure in Him and keep Him continually in my thoughts.

Even in ordinary matters which please us, we are accustomed to say: “It really does my heart good to taste this.” When a person reads or laughs and is not in earnest and does not mean it from his heart, we say: “You are laughing, but it is not coming from your heart.” The heart is something quite different from the mouth. In Scripture, “heart” means the strong, intense love which we should always have for God. Those who serve God merely with the mouth, the hand, or the knees are hypocrites, and God does not regard them. God does not want to have only one part of you; He wants to have the whole of you.

The Jews withheld themselves outwardly from idolatry but served God only with their mouth. Their heart was far from Him, filled with mistrust and unbelief. Outwardly they presented quite a beautiful appearance, as though they worshipped God in full earnestness; inwardly, however, they were full of idolatry.

SL 11:1538 (9‒10)

PRAYER: Purify our hearts, heavenly Father, that You may reign in them alone and that they may become a fixed habitation of the Holy Spirit within us to lead and direct us in all our ways, in and through Jesus Christ. Amen.

Editor’s note: No American Edition (AE) equivalent for today’s sermon excerpt exists at the time of this publication. For an alternate English translation of this sermon, see Lenker, Church Postil—Gospels, 5:17-35.