Journal Matt 15 (all references are from the ESV; changes in punctuation are mine)
Scripture: “And (Jesus) called the people to him and said to them, “Hear and understand: It is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person…
But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart comes evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defiles a person; but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone…” Matt 15:10-11; 18-20
Observation: This is an example of the way Man wants to deal with rationalizing Sin and separation from God: Sin and separation happens because of stuff that comes from the outside. Jesus came to conquer my heart…
Analysis: Traditions of religion: How I dress, how I talk, how I conform—all of this is about how “religious” I look, paying attention to the “appearance of godliness, but denying its power…” (2 Tim 3:5)
This was not an isolated observation by Paul: “We are not commending ourselves to you again but giving you cause to boast about us, so that you may be able to answer those who boast about outward appearance and not about what is in the heart…” (2 Cor 5:12) and “These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion…” (Col 2:23)
Jesus spoke to the crowd about correlating what I do outwardly to being godly (or acceptable): If I watch what I eat, wash my hands, make gestures, etc., then God will look favorably upon me. Today, it is attending church on Sunday (maybe Wednesday), dress right, maybe don’t cuss, etc. For a bunch of American folks, it is “Sunday is God’s, the rest of the days are mine.”
That even carries into people who could be considered serious about God. Why is that, though?
It is because of this simple thing: Sin is pervasive. It is in my life.
Deep down inside I want to declare my righteousness by what I do. I create a punch list of objectives. And, if I complete them, I want to give myself an “A”. That is not bad in itself; it is the right thing to do to be intentional in my discipleship. And, if I want to mature, to progress, anything worth doing is worth measuring.
However, in doing that “doing and measuring”, I must (repeat: MUST) put it in context to the GOSPEL.
So, back to the original scripture reference: It is a simple cause and effect analysis. If unwholesome words come out of my mouth, then is it because there is unwholesomeness in my heart? How about wandering eyes? A wandering heart? Bad thoughts? Evil heart? Sexually immoral thoughts? Am I drawn to profane things? Movies? Books? Television shows? My mouth becomes “loose?”
The picture and relevance is clear: There is a heart issue involved, stretching from my outward appearance and actions to be parallel to the condition of my heart.
Prayer: Father, it is good that you are Father in this, otherwise I would be crushed before I even started. Please make me sensitive to this topic; keep it front of mind—not in a condemnation sort of way, but in a continuous improvement sort of way.
I want to walk worthy of the Gospel; I think that even means talking worthy, acting worthy, having worthy thoughts and actions of the Gospel. Help me have godly attitudes in all I do.
Bring revival, O Lord. Cause it and let it start with me. AMEN