In my time alone with God this morning I read Matthew 15:10-11 NIV: 10 Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen and understand. 11 What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.”
When you read that, what do you think Jesus was saying?
In essence, He was telling His Jewish listeners who were wrapped up in tradition and ritual that it’s not what (or how) you eat that defiles you. They had all kinds of rules about washing their hands before they ate and making sure they only ate the right foods. Washing your hands (not their rules) is still a good idea, and their approved food list was based on the Law from the Old Testament and the many laws they added to it.
To “defile” means to make you unclean or polluted toward God. I’m well aware that good nutrition is a key to physical well-being and I’m once again striving to eat clean. Jesus isn’t talking about nutrition; He’s making a point that it’s the things coming out of your heart which make you unclean, not the things you eat. What’s in your heart will eventually come out in your words and actions.
We’re in a series on Spiritual Warfare right now, and I promise you our enemy constantly targets our heart, mind and emotions. He tempts us with attitudes of the heart and mind that are eventually seen in our words and actions. He loves to get us to hold on to things like pride, envy, bitterness, jealousy, anger, lust, greed, and hatred. Satan will tempt us to hold onto unforgiveness or think it’s ok to say we forgive but refuse to attempt to reconcile a relationship which both lead to unclean hearts according to the New Testament.
Our enemy will also try and get us to believe that if we look good to people most of the time, then we’re ok. When Samuel was charged with selecting a King for Israel, God made it quite clear that it’s not how we appear to others that matters. 1 Samuel 16:7 NIVstates: 7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
In Matthew 15:10-11, Jesus was telling His Jewish listeners that what’s in your heart is far more important than what or how you eat (or even how you may appear to most people). The same is true today, so the most important thing we can do is a regular heart check. This past Sunday, as Pastor Chris preached, God’s Spirit spoke to my heart about an issue of pride within in me. I’m so glad the Holy Spirit pointed it out; I confessed it immediately and have a placed a passage of Scripture and some notes to myself in my office to help guard my heart against this element of pride I didn’t realize was in my heart.
If you struggle with heart issues take them to Jesus honestly. A good book that can help you deal with some enemies of the heart is titled with the same words: Enemies of the Heart by Andy Stanley.