Jesus hit the nail on the head when He went right to the core of our issues.
He had been approached by the Pharisees and religious teachers about why some of the disciples weren’t following the Jewish ritual of washing their hands before eating. In response, and in no uncertain terms, He told them what He thought of their hypocrisy. They had developed a habit of skillfully sidestepping God’s laws and substituting their own traditions. He then turned to the crowd nearby and invited them to listen in, teaching them that it isn’t what goes into their bodies that defiles them, but what comes from their hearts.
In a desire to get away from the crowd and use this experience as a teachable moment for the disciples, Jesus stepped into a neighboring house and asked the twelve what they thought He meant by this sermonette.
In true disciple form, they needed further explanation, and Jesus offered it…
And then he added, “It is what comes from inside that defiles you.”
How often we focus on the external for the source of our sin, rather than directing our attention to the real problem? It’s what comes from the inside that corrupts us, Jesus said. The core of who we are – what’s in our hearts. That’s the problem!
“For from within, out of a person’s heart, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, lustful desires, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness.
All these vile things come from within; they are what defile you.”
It’s hard to imagine any issue a shepherd struggles with that Jesus didn’t cover in His teaching that day.
So, if we love the sheep, why aren’t we addressing what comes out of our hearts? We know our responses, our behaviors, and our reactions affect them deeply. We know they take our lead and play off our example.
It takes a determinant courage to look deeply inside ourselves. Intentionality is key. It involves more than a five-minute devotional or quick read of the verse of the day. It requires a resolute commitment to spend time with The Good Shepherd … on a consistent basis … and ask Him.
Are you open to doing that today? If so, here’s a tool that can help you focus your heart where it needs the most work: http://www.standrewsemporia.org/uploads/1/0/9/8/10980758/selfexamination.pdf