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Apr 27 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

Day Fifty-one – Matthew 15:10-20

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you

Do you not understand that everything that goes into the mouth passes into the stomach, and is eliminated? But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man.  Matthew 15:17-18

In our previous meditation in Matthew, we heard Jesus expose the way Pharisees and scribes neutralized the moral commandments of the law while spiritualizing and meticulously following ceremonial traditions. Jesus broke away from the mind-set of his religious culture so he could help his followers recover the will of God for their lives.

Unfortunately, there are Christians who read their Bibles yet miss these important issues. Some believers are convinced that no activity is without moral significance. But Jesus destroyed that myth when it came to eating and drinking (Mark went so far as to say Jesus “declared all foods clean” – Mk. 7:19). Jesus described ingestion as a physical (and morally neutral process)–in the mouth, through the stomach, and out of the body without moral significance or spiritual residue.

The problem is that many trees grow within religious cultures (including Christian subcultures) that God has not planted and there are many blind people following blind guides (vv. 13-14). The miracle of Jesus was his ability to restore mobility to the lame and sight to the blind (v. 31). He called people away from religious distractions and peripheral issues of faith and back to God, the true center. He opposed a false spirituality that worked at developing an image of righteousness rather than a righteous life.

Eating food with dirty hands may make us sick, but it will not harm our soul. The toxins that do serious damage to our inner life and our relationship with God and others are already in our heart. Jesus is not taken in by our pose for even one second–nor is he pleased with it. He wants us to be truthful with him and with ourselves.

Forgive us  Jesus, for congratulating ourselves because we have been good at keeping rules regarding things that do not matter. Our heart, O Lord, what a corrupt organ it can be, pumping out all kinds of cruelty, deceit, immorality, and crime. And this assumption does us in; that there is no harm done if we merely imagine an evil without doing it. For our heart not only invents fantasies, it also generates actions. With David we pray, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” Thank You for opening our eyes to these things that are so important to You. Now please grant us the grace to walk in them. (Ps. 51:10)

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