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May 9, 2021 | Chris Baselice
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“But the words you speak come from the heart—that’s what defiles you. For from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, all sexual immorality, theft, lying, and slander.”—Matthew 15:18–19 (NLT)
I love fast food and I don’t care who knows it! McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Taco Bell, Popeye’s, Jersey Mike’s, even Burger King! I think it tastes good. Usually when people discover my love of fast food, they tend to react with bewilderment. “You actually put that in your body? It’s so gross!” They get all judgmental, and yes, even slightly Pharisaical about it. But I just keep on eating my McDonald’s fries as I grin with glee.
In Matthew 15, Jesus is confronted by Pharisees because some of His disciples were breaking the tradition of their elders and eating with unwashed hands (Matthew 15:2 NASB). You see, the Pharisees were textbook legalists. They made everything about a relationship with God performance and rules based—John 18:28 is one example. They clung to their written traditions and were merciless in their judgments towards those who didn’t live up to their standards. That’s why Jesus said, “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you . . . ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship is a farce, for they teach man-made ideas as commands from God’” (Matthew 15:7–9 NLT).
After exposing their hypocrisy, Jesus turned to the crowd and declared that it’s not what goes into our body that defiles us; defilement happens in the heart, and what comes out of us is evidence of that. Now, obviously, McDonald’s and Arby’s may not be the healthiest option for me to eat, but what I should really be worried about is what comes out of my mouth, what actions I take, what my mind lingers on . . . because those things show the condition of my heart. They show just how defiled my heart is.
And just like I work out every day to counteract the weight gaining effects any fast food I eat has on my body, I need to ensure I’m working out “hard to show the results of [my] salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear” (Philippians 2:12 NLT). This means consistently spending time in prayer, having an intentional Bible study/worship, and maintaining spotters, which is my weightlifting parallel to connecting with other believers, having accountability, engaging in discipleship, and serving one another and the people around us. This is how we can clean out the defilement in our hearts and build up our spiritual maturity and alignment with the Spirit!
DIG: Read Mark 15, Mark 7, and Philippians 2.
DISCOVER: What do you feel creates defilement in your heart? What are you doing to clear out those defiled parts of your heart?
DISPLAY: Evaluate your life today, the same way someone who wants to lose weight evaluates their eating, exercising, and sleeping habits. Take an honest look at your habits, what—and who—you surround yourself with, what your heart is taking in and putting out, and prayerfully create a “workout” plan to clear out the defiled parts of your heart and align to the Spirit’s voice and work in your life.
Danny Saavedra has served on the staff of Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.