Gardening season is upon us. I’ve already been out surveying the damage from both winter and the previous summer, when I could not give my vegetable garden the care and maintenance it needed. Weeds abound in the raised beds, and the wood is rotting away as the decomposers God has created are doing their work. It’s not a pretty sight and very disheartening. The problems in my garden are very apparent, and with time and effort, I will work with my husband to pull out the plants I did not plant, repair or replace the disintegrating wood, and attempt to restore order to this little corner of my life. In some places, it is apparent that there is chaos and disorder; however, there are also places where the problems are not so visible.
Every Sunday I can dress myself and my family for church in our best clothes. I can brush their hair, pack them all into my sparkling mini-van, arrive at church right on time, and deliver them to their respective classrooms. I can smile at the greeters, sing out worship songs, and clap my hands. I can look great on the outside yet be a hot angry mess on the inside. Sin can be rotting away my insides. The greeters cannot see the angry words that erupted from my mouth when the kids did not wash their hands after using the bathroom or before dinner. They cannot see the bitterness lurking beneath the surface when you see someone who has the life you always dreamed of. Sin is like that: it’s easy to hide, but far more destructive to our hearts than the weeds and rotting wood are to my garden.
In today’s passage Jesus is speaking to this issue. His disciples had just been accused of breaking the laws created by the religious leaders. Apparently, they thought it was good to wash their hands before they ate, too. Jesus was quick to point out that while his disciples may have broken man’s laws, the Pharisees were breaking God’s laws. He made them angry and it bothered his disciples. They wondered why Jesus would intentionally upset the religious leaders of their time. He got frustrated with their lack of understanding and reminded them that it’s what is inside a person that matters. We can hide a multitude of sins, but Jesus can see it all. He could see that, inside, the Pharisees did not care about what the law really said. They were more concerned with upholding the laws they’d created. They wanted to look good outside for the world to see and would do whatever it took to maintain their image.
We are often like the Pharisees. We maintain an image that the world respects and upholds but are unwilling to allow Jesus access to our hearts, to see the sins that lurk in the hidden places of our souls. We don’t want to deal with the mess of our hearts; don’t want to deal with the anger that is simmering beneath the surface, which causes us to explode at those whom we love; or the greed that causes us to work long hours, ignoring our families to obtain the newest car or hottest thing. Our hearts are dirty places and can only be cleansed when we allow Jesus access to all of the dark crevices. What is in your heart that you need to bring into the light that Jesus provides?
10Then Jesus called to the crowd to come and hear. “Listen,” he said, “and try to understand. 11It’s not what goes into your mouth that defiles you; you are defiled by the words that come out of your mouth.”
12Then the disciples came to him and asked, “Do you realize you offended the Pharisees by what you just said?”
13Jesus replied, “Every plant not planted by my heavenly Father will be uprooted, 14so ignore them. They are blind guides leading the blind, and if one blind person guides another, they will both fall into a ditch.”
15Then Peter said to Jesus, “Explain to us the parable that says people aren’t defiled by what they eat.”
16“Don’t you understand yet?” Jesus asked. 17“Anything you eat passes through the stomach and then goes into the sewer. 18But the words you speak come from the heart—that’s what defiles you. 19For from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, all sexual immorality, theft, lying, and slander. 20These are what defile you. Eating with unwashed hands will never defile you.”
Why do you think the disciples were concerned with how the Pharisees felt?
Jesus was referring to the Pharisees when he was speaking about the plants that were going to be uprooted. Their traditions and rules were not implemented by the Father. Are there any areas of your life that you have allowed to grow that were not planted by the Father?
Think about an area of your life that causes you to sin. Is it a harsh tongue, a prideful spirit, lust, envy? What does this sin say about what is inside your heart? What do you need to do to allow this sin to be transformed by Jesus?
Ask God to reveal areas of your heart that are causing you to sin. Pray for clear direction on how to address this sin and move toward purity of heart. Thank God that he is always willing to help you overcome sin and gives you the strength to defeat temptation.
This post was written by Julie Mabus. Julie has a passion for thinking about big ideas, art, reading and seeing God reveal himself through creation. She is married and is homeschooling her four young children.
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