Peter said, "Explain to us what you said earlier to the people." Jesus said, "You still have trouble understanding? Surely you know that all the food that enters a person's mouth goes into the stomach. Then that food goes out of the body. But the bad things a person says with his mouth come from the way a person thinks. And these are the things that make a person wrong. All these bad things begin in a person's mind: evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual sins, stealing, lying, saying bad things against other people. These things make a person wrong. But not washing his hands before he eats does not make a person wrong."
— Matthew 15:15-20
Jesus had to remind his disciples of this repeatedly—it's what's inside your hearts that counts most. This is not because the interior world of the heart is isolated from actions—we can think something nice, feel something nice, and let feelings and thoughts take the place of actions. No, it's precisely because this interior world always has a way of revealing itself in behaviors that we must keep our hearts pure.
Jesus is after right actions, good deeds, decent behaviors, and honorable character. But these things are ultimately and consistently reproducible because we keep our hearts pure and are committed to honor God in the way we live.
O Lord God, Almighty Creator and Sustainer, why you choose to love me with your grace is a great mystery to me. You know my thoughts. You know my motives. While I am working on making those areas of my life more holy, I recognize that I need the cleansing and power of your Holy Spirit in the inner most places of my existence. Cleanse my heart and conform my thoughts to your will. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
Today's Verses in Context
Then some Pharisees and teachers of the law came to Jesus. They came from Jerusalem and asked Jesus, "Why do your followers not obey the rules given to us by our great people that lived before us? Your followers don't wash their hands before they eat!" Jesus answered, "And why do you refuse to obey God's command so that you can follow those rules you have? God said, 'You must honor (respect) your father and mother.' And God also said, 'Any person that says bad things to his father or mother must be killed.' But you teach that a person can say to his father or mother, 'I have something I could use to help you. But I will not use it to help you. I will give it to God.' You teach that person to not honor his father. So you teach that it is not important to do what God said. You think that it is more important to follow those rules you have. You are hypocrites ! Isaiah was right when he spoke about you. Isaiah said: 'These people say they honor me, but they don't really make me an important part of their lives. Their worship of me is for nothing. The things they teach are only rules that people have made.'" Jesus called the people to him. Jesus said, "Listen and understand what I am saying. It is not the things a person puts in his mouth that make him wrong. It is the things a person says with his mouth that make him wrong." Then the followers came to Jesus and asked, "Do you know that the Pharisees are angry because of what you said?" Jesus answered, "Every plant that my Father in heaven has not planted himself will be pulled up by the roots. Stay away from the Pharisees. They lead the people, but they are like blind men leading other blind men. And if a blind man leads another blind man, then both men will fall into a hole." Peter said, "Explain to us what you said earlier to the people." Jesus said, "You still have trouble understanding? Surely you know that all the food that enters a person's mouth goes into the stomach. Then that food goes out of the body. But thebad things a person says with his mouth come from the way a person thinks. And these are the things that make a person wrong. All these bad things begin in a person's mind: evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual sins, stealing, lying, saying bad things against other people. These things make a person wrong. But not washing his hands before he eats does not make a person wrong."
Related Scripture Readings
A good person has good things saved in his heart. And so he speaks the good things that come from his heart. But an evil person has evil saved in his heart. So he speaks the evil things that come from his heart. And I tell you that people will have to explain about every careless thing they have said. This will happen on the day of judgment. The words you have said will be used to judge you. Some of your words will make you right, but some of your words will make you guilty."
People did not think it was important to have a true knowledge of God. So God left them and allowed those people to have their own worthless thinking. And so those people do the things that they should not do. Those people are filled with every kind of sin, evil, greed, and hatred. Those people are full of jealousy, murder, fighting, lying, and thinking the worst things about each other. Those people gossip and say evil things about each other. Those people hate God. They are rude and conceited and boast about themselves. Those people invent ways of doing evil. They don't obey their parents, they are foolish, they don't keep their promises, and they show no kindness or mercy to other people. Those people know God's law. They know God's law says that people who live like that should die. But they continue to do those wrong things. And they say that people who do those things are doing right.
I hope my words and thoughts please you. Lord, you are my Rock—You are the One who saves me.