Tony Brown preached from Isaiah 29:13-14 last night, talking about how to honour God with our lives as well as with our lips. He talked about the wrong attitudes we can have towards God and in particular looked at how living in a routine can encourage complacency in us and how focussing on traditions and rituals can lead us into pride and self-righteousness.

Routines are a necessary part of everyday life, bringing structure and organisation into our lives. But the danger of a routine is that it leads us to live life on ‘autopilot’. The Israelites, with their regular, twice-daily habit of offering sacrifices for sin, could easily forget why they were doing what they were doing. Religion can easily become routine. We can be doing all the right outward things, such as Bible study, prayer, attending church meetings and so on, but can still be neglectful of that intimate, personal relationship with God which we all need.

God has given His only Son for us. He has given the ultimate sacrifice. How, then, can we be satisfied with half-hearted service? Revelation 3:15-16 warns of the dangers of being lukewarm. We need God to breathe life into all we do and we need to be prepared to vary our routines so that we do not become complacent in our worship.

One other danger is traditionalism, where we pay more attention to traditions (even those originally designed to honour God) than we do to God Himself. If we focus more on the tradition than on the God the tradition is aimed to serve, we are in trouble. The Pharisees were like this, inventing more and more rules for people to follow, but failing to honour God in their hearts. They rebuked Jesus because of hand-washing issues, but His reply was that their traditions had led to self-righteousness and pride (see Mark 7:1-15, where Jesus quotes from Is 29:13).

When we rely on traditions for our self-righteousness, rather than trusting in Christ’s perfect sacrifice and understanding that our only boasting should be in the Lord, we can end up with a prideful heart or a judgmental heart. The prideful heart stops us depending on God and makes us believe that it’s our own achievements and accomplishments which satisfy God. We lose any sense of reverence, gratitude and awe and start thinking it’s all down to us.

When we allow ourselves to feel superior to others, we quickly fall into the sin of judging others. Instead of showing compassion and love to those who do not believe, we condemn them. Again, the Pharisees showed this attitude towards Jesus becasue He ate with sinners (see Matt 9:9-13). We need to love sinners as Jesus did, learning what He meant by ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice’ (Matt 9:13, quoting Hosea 6:6), rather than believing ourselves superior to them. We are all in need of God’s grace. When we realise this, there is no room for pride or judgmental attitudes and we will learn to honour God through every part of our living.