“Out of the heart … come …”
Today we read the straightforward teaching of Jesus that exposes the attitudes that lie behind so much of human behaviour. His words are probably familiar to us; they were spoken against the background of the rules and regulations taught the Lawyers and Pharisees. Mark 7 begins with a comment that the
“Pharisees and all the Jews … do not eat unless they wash. And there are many other traditions that they observe, such as the washing of cups and pots and copper vessels and dining couches” (verses 3,4).
Now such a practice is good, but when we embellish it, as they did, and turn it into a ritual and a foundation for your sense of righteousness, then it corrupts human thinking.
Jesus teaching is very simple and goes to the heart of the problem. He first quotes Isaiah,
“it is written,
‘This people honours me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men’” (verses 6,7).
Let us make sure our doctrines are the commandments and teachings revealed in God’s word.
The ‘simple’ warning of Jesus should be familiar to us,
“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” (verses 21-23).
Jesus’ words are so applicable to life around us today and while few are guilty of physical murder yet Christ indicates “slander” is serious for it seeks to ‘murder’ a person’s character.
Consider “coveting … envy … pride” and then think of the abundance of advertising that surrounds us! It is aimed at developing and exploiting these attitudes in human thinking: it also encourages and exploits sensuality. These are the main attitudes of mind that threaten to “defile” us today, to develop within and then come “out of the heart” – our heart!
When we come to Mark 12 we will see Jesus’ answer to the scribe who asked,
“Which commandment is the most important …?” (verse 28).
“you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” (verse 30).
What is love? That is a word that has been totally corrupted today! If the full focus of our mind is on loving the Creator of all life together with his Son who came to offer us ‘abundant life’ – then “out of our heart” will increasingly come everything that is lovely and Christ-like.