The HEART of the Matter

Title: “The HEART of the Matter”
Text: Mark 7:14-23

“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?… 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” (Mark 7:18-23, English Standard Version).

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it” (Proverbs 4:23, New English Translation).

Where the religious leaders were asking Jesus about outer rituals and traditions, Jesus got right down to what matters.  The issue was way bigger than focusing on “cleaning your hands before a meal” or any such outwardly-focused tradition; because nothing, Jesus said, from the outside can defile us.  It is the things that flow outward from our hearts that make us unclean. So, the heart of the matter…

… is the matter of the heart!

IT IS WHAT IS IN OUR HEART THAT MATTERS.  Why?  Because everything we do flows from our heart.  The Pharisees and Scribes mainly focused on things people could see… and that is what religion does – it focuses on man’s standards and expectations, not God’s.  God always looks inside of us.  He even tells us, “Man focuses on the outside but God looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).  All the messy stuff about us – the anger, the lust, the greed, the foolish decisions, the gossip, the cursing, the bitterness, the lying… all of that flows from our heart… and that is why we must focus our attention there.  We have to learn to guard our heart… and, as the Apostle Paul said, we “train ourselves to be godly” (1 Timothy 4:7) so that what flows out from us is righteousness and godly living – living a life that is devoted to Jesus and is pleasing to the Father.

Lord, give us the wisdom to learn from the bad examples of the Pharisees and Scribes, so that as Your children we focus on what you see – the inside of us, our heart – that our lives would be pleasing to You in all we do.  Thank You for giving us instruction through Your Word.  May we like David, hide Your Word in our heart… so that we do not sin against You.  Thank You for the gift of Your Spirit who lives within us, and Who helps us to live lives that honor You… may we listen and obey Him as He nudges and guides us toward righteousness.  In the Strong Name of Jesus we pray… Amen!

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