One-third of the way through and a happy Thursday to you! It’s been great hearing from many of you enjoying the daily posts and getting something out of it as well. Thanks for reading and letting me know.
Mark 7:1–8, 14-15, 21-23 (NRSV)
7 Now when the Pharisees and some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered around him, 2 they noticed that some of his disciples were eating with defiled hands, that is, without washing them. 3 (For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, do not eat unless they thoroughly wash their hands, thus observing the tradition of the elders; 4 and they do not eat anything from the market unless they wash it; and there are also many other traditions that they observe, the washing of cups, pots, and bronze kettles.) 5 So the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why do your disciples not live according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?” 6 He said to them, “Isaiah prophesied rightly about you hypocrites, as it is written, ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me; 7in vain do they worship me, teaching human precepts as doctrines.’ 8 You abandon the commandment of God and hold to human tradition.”
14 Then he called the crowd again and said to them, “Listen to me, all of you, and understand: 15 there is nothing outside a person that by going in can defile, but the things that come out are what defile.”
21 For it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come: fornication, theft, murder, 22 adultery, avarice, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, folly. 23 All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”
A rather crude object lesson to illuminate an important truth. Chaos comes from within. It is not about circumstances but rather our reaction to them that makes the difference. Oh, I’m not saying all circumstances are the same. Certainly, some are much more difficult. But what Jesus is saying is that eating with defiled hands does not defile you but evil intentions deep within your heart do. In other words, while it is true that dirty hands may turn your stomach, Jesus rightly says they cannot condemn you. Only that which is in your heart can do that.
What do you wake up thinking about? What do you daydream about? Where does your mind naturally go when you are bored? These are the things that are flowing from your heart. We often spend more time working on our circumstances than we do working on our heart. One of the ways heart change comes about is through God working through prayer. There is a “truth” being floated on the internet that we are the average of the five persons we spend the most time with. I believe God wants to skew our average as we spend time in prayer and study of scripture.
Father, Son and Holy Spirit, please shape the desire of my heart to match yours. Help me to see the world and those in it through your eyes, feel with your heart, and serve with your hands and feet.