The Continuing Response

OPENING PRAYER

God, help me to take the time to repent of any thoughts or intentions of my heart that are not pleasing to You.

 

Read: MARK 7:14–23

14 Again Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen to me, everyone, and understand this. 15 Nothing outside a person can defile them by going into them. Rather, it is what comes out of a person that defiles them.” [16]

17 After he had left the crowd and entered the house, his disciples asked him about this parable. 18 “Are you so dull?” he asked. “Don’t you see that nothing that enters a person from the outside can defile them? 19 For it doesn’t go into their heart but into their stomach, and then out of the body.” (In saying this, Jesus declared all foods clean.)

20 He went on: “What comes out of a person is what defiles them. 21 For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, 22 adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. 23 All these evils come from inside and defile a person.”

 

Reflect: ALLOW THESE WORDS OF JESUS TO CHALLENGE THE THOUGHTS AND ATTITUDES OF YOUR HEART, AND SEEK THE RENEWING OF HIS SPIRIT.

The challenge to the Pharisees becomes a focal point as Jesus picks up on the whole issue of ritualistic laws and teaches the crowd a new way of understanding—a way which should change their attitudes and actions. The conversation continues in private as the disciples ask Jesus for further explanation, much to his seeming frustration. We need to listen carefully to his reply. Jesus explains that it is not an external ritual, whether concerning food or other matters, which brings impurity or uncleanness, but rather all that comes from a person’s heart and mind. Jesus goes on to list those things which are sinful, bring pain to others and displease God. (It is interesting to compare this list with that in Galatians 5:19–21, and then the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22.)
It is such outpouring of evil, whether from the heart of the individual or groups, that today brings disunity to communities, society, nations and, indeed, the whole global family. Living in the light of this teaching of Jesus, it is important to remain open to the Spirit. Only in his power can we resist the way of self-centeredness and prejudice and instead live in the light, love and grace of Jesus himself.

 

APPLY

Try a “diet” of what comes out of your mouth rather than what goes into it. Choose to speak only God-glorifying words.

 

CLOSING PRAYER

Today, Lord, fill me afresh with Your Spirit, so that all that flows from me might reflect the new life You have given me.

 

Syndicated via Scripture Union. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
 

Terry Schneider