And as he taught them, he said, “Is it not written: “´My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations´? But you have made it ´a den of robbers.´” Mark 11:17 (NIV)
It is a common mistake and one difficult to solve. If we would dedicate ourselves to furthering the ministry, then long and tedious work must be given to the task. The worker is worth his wage as Jesus puts it. Industry goes hand in hand with the efforts of spreading God´s Word to His people. Preachers, ministers and many others dedicate their life´s service to fulfilling that occupation. Writers and evangelist offer themselves, their time and health also to the ministry. A host of jobs depend upon the income which has been generated by our need to seek God, flock to Churches and share His Word to the world.
This story is intimidating in the fact that we can see Jesus´ reaction to the blatant shift of interest from approaching God, to the seeking of personal gain. It is a test that comes to everyone dedicated to spreading the Word and assisting the flock. How can we balance between offering up services, and fulfilling our duties of earning a living? Nobody wants to be a burden on their family or the church. Paul encourages Church members to seek employment and not be lazy. But there is a difference between working to feed the family and seeking a lucrative and successful life. This dilemma is one each of us will have to take up with the Lord personally. It may be one we must pray over daily.
But what if we took a different approach? What if we let Jesus´ words lift us higher than the interpretation of financial gain? What if we let Him lead us as He often tried to take us up into spiritual themes? Could He be instructing us on more than one layer? Could He be hinting to a state of heart? Is there a connection here between where our hearts are in relation to God? The Bible often refers to the soul as being a temple. Might we allow Jesus words to pull us closer to Him with this story of the temple?
Jesus arrives on the scene and people are doing something contrary to what God intended for His House of Worship. The Temple was built so that we could go there to pray. The lofty intention was that we were able to go there and spend time with our Lord. It was originally prepared as a sacred and special place to seek Him and enjoy Him. We should go there to offer ourselves to Him, and find Him there. The problem arrives when that sacred place is lowered to earthly intentions. In our fallen nature we remove the attention from God and turn it towards lower worldly motives.
Within our heart is it any different? Our hearts were designed to be dedicated to Him. We were created creatures which should be sacred and special meeting places for our union with the Divine. Our souls were intended to be tuned to God in prayer. Are our hearts to be “Houses of Prayer?” Could it be that we may sometimes make them into a “Den of Thieves?” Is it possible that we may lower ourselves to some personal advancement rather than maintaining our hearts as a communing place with our Lord?
Dear Jesus, we cheer Your efforts to clean the temple of those who sought less holy pursuits there. Yet as Your light is shone into our lives we realize that our own hearts may be less than perfect. We would like to invite You into our hearts today. Come into the temple of our souls. Take a look around. Please do any cleaning You find necessary there. Turn over the tables and chase out any devious thoughts or lower intentions. We would love to be able to commune with our Lord in a soul that is suitable for You. Please make in us a heart that is a pure and dedicated “House of Prayer” and not a “Den of Thieves!”