Many Pharisees and Sadducees came to the place where John was baptizing people. When John saw them he said to them: “You are all snakes! Who warned you to run away from God’s anger that is coming? You must do the things that show that you have really changed your hearts and lives. And don’t think that you can boast and say to yourselves, ‘Abraham is our father.’ I tell you that God could make children for Abraham from these rocks here. The ax is now ready to cut down the trees. Every tree that does not make good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. – Matthew 3:7-10

So much of religion can be little more than posturing, passionate opinions, and religious pomp without much true substance. God, however, demands lives that are consistent with the words of our mouths. Wearing robes, having titles, coming from a strong religious heritage, and liking to be recognized as religious, in and of themselves, simply don’t count with Jesus. He wants to see the fruit of lives dedicated to him as God. In fact, Jesus uses terms of utmost derision for those claiming to be religious but not living righteously. He reserves the greatest punishment for those who take advantage of their religious positions. What counts with our Lord are lives that are true to God, not ones that merely look and sound religious. Faithful and just God, thank you for being consistent and true. At times, dear Father, I find myself struggling to have the purest of motives and sincerest of commitments. Please forgive me when my faith is more about religious showy rituals and not about a changed daily lifestyle. Help me to be more true to what I say I believe, and not get caught up in religious pretensions. Matthew 23:2-7, 27-28 – James 1:22-24 – Matthew 7:24-27