What comes out of a person is what defiles him.

And he called the people to him again and said to them, “Hear me, all of you, and understand: There is nothing outside a person that by going into him can defile him, but the things that come out of a person are what defile him.” And when he had entered the house and left the people, his disciples asked him about the parable. And he said to them, “Then are you also without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him, since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?” (Thus he declared all foods clean.) And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”

I think that the contrast painted here by the Lord is a very stark one. The religious leaders were all about the externals - about following spiritual rules and man made traditions. Jesus would have none of this and consistently confronted them on all fronts. He understood that following rules and principles would never lead a person to external life. Sadly I too well understand this because I was once a person who loved to follow those rules.

My desire to follow rules was very much a reflection of my internal brokenness. The desire to look good and perform for God is antithetical to kingdom values that compassionately embrace the wounded and the lost. It projects the idea that God wants a people who have their act together. Such a message is false and destructive. God loves us where we are and longs to be merciful to us and lead us in way that produce internal and eternal life.

Help me Lord to follow you in my heart and not lean on my own understanding.

1 comment:

  1. I used to struggle growing up in churches where the rules were what mattered most. Some rules I didn't have any problem following, but they didn't bring me any closer to God. Other rules I rebelled against, and I have since learned that those rules were not what Jesus would have asked me to do, and that breaking them didn't take me any further away from God.


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