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Matthew 15:17-20

“Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man ‘unclean.’ For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what make a man ‘unclean’; but eating with unwashed hands does not make him ‘unclean.’”

Jesus was at it again…upsetting the Pharisees and teachers of the law while boggling the minds of His followers with revolutionary truth. The self-righteous religious big mouths of the day were giving Jesus a hard time because His disciples didn’t wash their hands before they ate. These guys had taken the Law and turned it into a religious nightmare and they were worried about table manners? I can be that way sometimes…can’t you?

Jesus moves on to quote Isaiah 29:13, a blistering commentary for those guys as well as for us:

“These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.”

Most of us tend to focus more on outward public behavior than on matters of the heart. We criticize each other’s way of living while ignoring the filth that resides within our own lives. We point the white-hot spotlight of judgment at each other’s specks of dust but we never bother to shine it on the planks in our own eyes. For every fault we can find in another person’s life (“whatever enters the mouth”) there are two or three or more of our own (“the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart”).

There is none righteous, not even one (Romans 3:10). None of us are good enough on our own merit…all of us are unclean. Let’s not be like the man in the Book of James who gazes into the mirror at himself, but within minutes, forgets what kind of man he actually is (James 1:24). Humility is one of the true marks of authentic Christianity, and for obvious reasons: the authentic Christian has an intense understanding of his own filth and need for a Savior.

Let’s all focus less on outward appearances, and more on our own hearts. By doing so we will all be following our Master’s will, and the world will be a much better place for it.

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