So the first verse I ran into this morning is taking me back along the same old beaten path I’ve been travelling for months now. I am assuming that the message hasn’t penetrated my heart and I still need to hear it. I guess it’s just like pulling up to an intersection. You see the stop sign, you look both ways and see no one coming, so you don’t really stop, you just slow down enough to kind of make it look like you did…sort of. I know it but it’s not my treasure yet. Lord, help me make it my treasure.
First verse today: Mark 7:15 “There is nothing that enters a man from outside which can defile him; but the things which come out of him, those are things that defile a man.”
After reading this, a glanced a few verses down and saw this: v 20 ” What comes out of a man, that defiles a man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a man.”
Well, of course I had to examine every descriptive word linked to evil and then look at myself. Do I have evil thoughts? I don’t want to admit it, but yes, I have had them and fairly recently even. I must confess it even if it disgusts me to do it, it’s even more disgusting not to. Adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, and lewdness, those I believe I can say I’m innocent. What does that leave? Covetousness, wickedness, deceit, evil eye, blasphemy and foolishness. The problem is, I can’t recall any specific instances where I have done any of these things, but I know I’ve wanted things that other people have from money to simple joy, I’ve coveted. I know that just that jealousy is wicked because I couldn’t just be happy for other people, I wanted it all for myself. I know I have been deceptive to others because I was too selfish to be honest about things that probably didn’t make a big difference to them anyway. You know, like when your husband asks you if you want to do something with him (like go bowling) and you say yes because you really don’t want to get into the conversation (or possible argument) as to why you don’t really want to do what he wants to do (and then you have an attitude like you sacrificed something big, hmph!). Blasphemy? To me just the thought of saying Jesus’ name or God’s name in the improper context is blasphemy. Those names are to be revered, not spit out like trash. Foolishness is abundant everywhere we go and the more we watch TV or silly videos on the internet, the more the foolish philosophy gets into our hearts and we behave foolishly in turn. Silly, inappropriate things come out of mouths and we try to call them funny. Donald Trump would be an example (as smart as he may be, he talks very foolishly). So, even if I can’t recall any specific instance of my being foolish, I’m sure it’s happened within the last month, just knowing how common it is and my tendency to try to lighten things up too much.
Well, I decided I needed to look for more scripture to verify what Jesus is saying in Mark, so I visited Matthew and sure enough, I found Jesus referencing Isaiah on the matter and then a second witness account of Mark’s version.
Matthew 15:7-11 “Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying, “These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me, and in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.”
Oh how true is this for the people today? I see all over Facebook people quoting scripture or confessing their belief in Jesus and then turning around and judging other people for things they see them do or getting into arguments over unimportant things. I try not to do either, but it’s hard. How can we see what people are doing and offer to correct them without being judgmental ourselves? Judgment is in the heart and not in the words, so my correction must be perceived that way and I’m not very good at that yet.
But Jesus had to get frustrated with having to repeat Himself over and over. How did He handle it? I think Mark 8:17-21 gave me a slight glimpse of His frustration anyway…
“But Jesus, being aware of it, said to them, “Why do you reason because you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive nor understand? Is you heart still hardened? Having eyes,do you not see? and having ears, do you not hear? And do you not remember? When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of fragments did you take up?” They said to Him, “Twelve.” “Also, when I broke the seven for the four thousand, how many large baskets full of fragments did you take up? And they said, “Seven.” So He said to them, “How is it you do not understand?”
Can you see His frustration? And yet He took the time to point out what He believed should have been obvious to them without sounding like a jerk. The Pharisees would have been offended no matter what Jesus said but that’s because of the state of their hearts. The disciples had an advantage over the Pharisees because they already believed Jesus was the Son of God even if they didn’t quite know it themselves yet.
I find all this fascinating, and yet, I see there is still so much growing I need to do. I really enjoy my visits with Jesus in His Word and I wish I would discipline myself a little better to do it more often. It makes the rest of my day so much more peaceful and I feel like Jesus values my learning ability so He keeps on teaching. I believe He is the greatest example of patience and we could all take a lesson from that alone!
Well, here’s what I’m taking away from my reading: 1) have patience with others, we must love them first. Not because we personally know them or anything other superficial thing like that, but because we recognize others as God’s creation and that He loves them as much as He love us. 2) When we love others the way God loves us, we will do things with the right attitude in our hearts. Our treasure will be good in our hearts instead of evil because we are putting others before ourselves. When our hearts are in the right place, then we can’t be defiled and susceptible to evil thinking and actions. That’s how God made us and we are perfectly capable of accomplishing this task. After all, Phil 4:19 I can do all things through Christ Who gives me strength.