1 Kings 10:1-10; Psalm 37:5-6,30-31,39-40;Mark 7:14-23
Nothing that enters one from outside can defile that person; but the things that come out from within are what defile.” (Mark 7:15)
As vital an organ as it is, the human heart is also prone to some very threatening disorders: coronary artery disease, arrhythmia, congestive heart failure, and other cardiac conditions. And that’s just in the physical realm. Spiritually, our hearts are just as susceptible!
Addressing the differences in ritual between Jews and Gentiles regarding food, Jesus declared that nothing that a person eats—what enters into him from outside—can defile him. “Thus,” Mark tells us, “he declared all foods clean” (Mark 7:19). But then he turned the conversation from the physical to the spiritual, declaring: “From within people, from their hearts, come evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, folly. All these evils come from within and they defile” (7:21-23).
Jesus used this conversation about clean and unclean foods to teach his disciples about clean and unclean hearts. He took the opportunity to tell how we all have sinful drives and ignoble impulses lurking within our hearts—and that this is where we need to focus our attention. We can’t simply blame the “sinful culture out there” for our failings, because it’s really what is within that defiles us. The environment around us, the company we keep, the unavoidable circumstances of our daily lives can present occasions to act out the sinful attitudes and immoral desires of our hearts, but they don’t make us sin. We sin because we are sinners— weak, fallen people. That’s why we confess that we’ve sinned “through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault” and not because “the devil made me do it.”
So how can we respond in godly ways to the challenges we face in the world around us? By cultivating hearts for God. By fostering a “heart-healthy” lifestyle that avoids what is dangerous to our spiritual welfare. We need to be careful about what we allow into our minds and hearts. Then our faith will be reflected in our lives, and our actions will flow from hearts full of love, hearts always seeking to do God’s will.
“Father, teach me to guard my heart. Purify me more and more, so that I can reflect your ways and your goodness to everyone around me.”~wau