Matthew 15:16-20 (KJV)
16 And Jesus said, Are ye also yet without understanding? 17 Do not ye yet understand, that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught? 18 But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. 19 For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: 20 These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man.
It is not what we do on the outside, like following a bunch of rules, that defiles us; instead it is what is coming out of our internal heart that brings defilement. Have you ever mentored someone or been around someone that is very religious, a church goer and Bible scholar, but they have major heart issues? Jesus gave a list of heart problems that described the Pharisees and Sadducees in detail: evil thoughts, murders, adultery, fornication, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. When we have these in our heart, it becomes defiled. It is not clean. Even without realizing it, we can quickly become like the Pharisees, asking questions out of a critical spirit instead of a teachable position.
Many times, these questions are rooted in finding a way to express one’s disdain for the listener or teacher GOD has placed in your life. It is like saying, You want to teach me, but are you really qualified? What about this rule or Scripture in the Bible that you and your disciples have failed to follow? How can you teach me anything? The Pharisees and religious rulers of Jesus day were so angry with Jesus because when He taught His words cut to the heart of the matter. Jesus was able to see right through their fancy show of religion and get to the nastiness in their soul life. He then began to share about how this was not pleasing to GOD.
Instead of changing, the religious leaders tried to play the blame game. If they could get Jesus to look bad because He didn’t follow every command in the Old Testament, then they could justify not listening to anything He had to say. But once again, Jesus had a ready response for their accusation. He told them where they were falling short of following the Scriptures due to their tradition. Then He taught His disciples on what it’s really about- matters if the heart, not actions.
It is easy to get so focused on following rules that we can become self righteous hypocrites, no longer really glorifying GOD with a loving heart towards others and looking down on those who do not carry our traditions. But we must be honest with ourselves; all of us have sinned and are still falling short in some area. It is easy to point out the obvious overt sins in a neighbor’s life such as lying, cursing, fornication or getting drunk. But it is harder to realize that the worse position to be in is having a defiled, hateful, unforgiving heart, pridefully accusing those who are growing in GOD at their own pace. This is why we must pray the prayer of David, asking the LORD to refocus our attention on the internal and show us our hearts.
Scripture for Meditation:
Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139:23-24 (KJV)
Prayer: Father, please forgive me for accusing others and pointing out their sins before I have taken the time to examine my own heart. I ask You today to cleanse me of a judgmental heart and help me to love others passionately, as You do; I know I cannot do this in my own strength and need Your help to become a stronger Christian. You know my heart. You know my thoughts. And You know where I am seeking out faults in others because I do not want to face my own imperfections. This may make me feel stronger and less insecure but I want to rely on Your strength in the midst of my weaknesses. Lead me into the way everlasting and remove me from any wicked way in me. In Jesus’ name. Amen.