Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen and understand. What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.”
Then the disciples came to him and asked, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this?”
He replied, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots. Leave them; they are blind guides. If the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.”
Peter said, “Explain the parable to us.”
“Are you still so dull?” Jesus asked them. “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 a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what defile a person; but eating with unwashed hands does not defile them.” Matthew 15:10-20
Dieticians might take exception with Jesus’ words. They would tell us that what goes into our bodies matters a great deal. Of course, Jesus and the disciples weren’t taking their camels through the drive thru window either. Their diet was healthier than ours. Mac and cheese was probably not considered a vegetable back then.
Jesus’ point is what goes in tastes great, but what comes out is putrid. Whether it’s the body eliminating waste or the refuse coming out of our mouths, both have the ability to defile.
Some of the things we eat might cause indigestion. But, some of the things we say could lead to “murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony and slander.”
No wonder the Bible has so much to say about the connection between evil and our hearts:
“The heart of the righteous weighs its answers, but the mouth of the wicked gushes evil” (Proverbs 15:28).
“A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of” (Luke 6:45).
Now for the dilemma: We want to be righteous and good people, but sometimes words come out we wish we could take back. Is this proof we are not righteous or good? Do we work harder at becoming more righteous and good? Or, do we just pretend to be more righteous than what we are by carefully choosing our words?
The simple fact is not one person reading this post can make himself or herself more righteous. We could make ourselves more rigid, but not more righteous. Our righteousness comes from Christ. Period.
The Bible tells us very clearly: “But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:4-5).
You and I are righteous because of Christ. Our righteousness is like “filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6).
Okay, so if our righteousness comes only from Christ and righteous people don’t speak evil words, why do these words come out?
1. We might be having an identity crisis.
Like Rafiki said to Simba in The Lion King, “You don’t even know who you are.” Rather than operating from God’s thoughts about us, we might be falling back into some other definition. Our system might be overridden by old wounds and old tapes. You are not who you used to be. Stop acting like it. Remind yourself of who you are in Christ.
2. We might need to stop the flow.
There are things we shouldn’t say out loud, especially to other people – ever. Every thought and every emotion doesn’t have the right to free expression. Don’t throw up on other people. Throw up on Jesus. Take your complaints, concerns and criticism to Jesus. Don’t defile your family or your workplace. Give it to God – He can take it.
3. We need to come to a greater understanding of Christ’s righteousness in our lives.
All of the Bible scholars out there will get excited about doing a word study on righteousness. More power to ya. Just go over to biblegateway.com and type in “righteousness” in the keyword search. You will be amazed by what God intends to do in your life.
But, knowledge is only one part of understanding Christ’s righteousness. We can have the theology down pat, but lack understanding. After all, knowledge says that a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom knows not to put it in a fruit salad. Right?
The pathway to connecting with Christ’s righteousness is surrender. We must admit “I don’t know better than God.” After all, God says, “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:9).
Before we speak, before we act on our emotions, we must surrender our words and our thoughts to God. We know what we’d like to say, but how do we yield to the righteousness of Christ?
Make this your prayer today: “May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer” (Psalm 19:14).
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