Sunday, October 25, 2015

Jesus wants Us to Live from the Inside Out

Then Jesus called the crowd to come and hear.
All of you listen,’ he said, ‘and try to understand.
It’s not what goes into your body that defiles you;
 you are defiled by what comes from your heart’” (Mark 7:14-15, NLT).

Jesus called out to the crowd, wanting them to beware of those who would lead them astray and to be careful to get their values and priorities straight. The Pharisees taught that eating with unclean or defiled hands would defile a person before God (Mark 7:5). Jesus explained that they had it backwards. Defilement is an internal matter, not an external one.

Certainly God is concerned about our actions, but focusing on outward actions can pull us away from the more important issue – the condition of the heart. Just as the Pharisees’ emphasis on traditions had caused them to ignore God’s commands, emphasis on external issues can cause us to neglect internal ones. Conversely, a person who is right on the inside will reflect that reality with how he or she looks at life, speaks, acts, and relates to others. The Pharisees should have known this. Often God had told his people that he valued mercy and obedience based on love more than merely observing rules and rituals (for example, you can read it from 1 Samuel 15:22-23; Psalms 40:6-8; 51:16-19; Jeremiah 7:21-23; Hosea 6:6; Amos 5:21-24; Micah 6:6-8).

Concern about the inside, the “heart,” should come first and then outward actions. Think about this: While we don’t have a long list of ceremonial rituals and regulations like the Pharisees, we make our own lists. These may involve food and drink, clothes and entertainment, worship style and more. Some believers go even further, adding their own behaviour tests of a person’s commitment to Christ. Yet we are painfully aware of the people we’ve known who looked good on the outside but were far from God (Could it be you?). Instead, God wants us to live from the inside out. Lord Jesus said, “It’s not what goes into your body that defiles you; you are defiled by what comes from your heart” or positively put, God “sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).

Living inside out.

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