October 11, 2016 • Life for Leaders
“Nothing outside a person can defile them by going into them. Rather, it is what comes out of a person that defiles them.”
In the first century A.D., the Pharisees were among the most zealous of Jews when it came to keeping the Law of God. Yet they found it easy to focus on externals and neglect matters of the heart. This was true, for example, when it came to the question of what foods to eat and what to avoid. The Pharisees had elaborate measures by which to determine what was kosher and what was not. But they were often filled with pride concerning their own holiness, looking down upon average Jews who were not able to live up to Pharisaic standards.
Jesus criticized the Pharisees for caring so much about externals that they neglected the things that matter most. “Nothing outside a person can defile them by going into them,” he said. “Rather, it is what comes out of a person that defiles them.” (7:15). Thus all people, including the Pharisees, ought to focus more on what’s inside of them and how this gets expressed in actions.
In our culture, many people are obsessed with what they eat and don’t eat. People count calories. They watch for how much sodium, fat, and gluten are in their foods. They are endlessly worried about what they take into their body. This is not necessarily a bad thing. Indeed, many of us would do well to watch what we eat more closely. But Jesus reminds us to keep our priorities in the right place. If I eat only healthy foods but am a rotten person on the inside, then I’m living my life backwards. Eating right does matter, of course. But, even more important is the rightness of our hearts and how we live out this rightness in our core relationships.
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
What is the state of your heart today?
Are there matters of the heart you need to confess today, so that God might forgive you and set your free?
Gracious God, you see everything in my life. My heart is an open book to you. You know all of those things that pollute my inner being and flow out into my daily life. So I ask you, Lord, to cleanse my heart. Show me what I need to confess to you so that I might be forgiven and healed. Purify my heart, dear Lord, so that I might be wholly devoted to you.
I pray today in the words of Psalm 51:
Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. Amen.
Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online Bible commentary: Restoring the Joy of Your Salvation
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.