by Andy Stanley on Youversion
“The Simmering Volcano”
Scripture: Matthew 15:1-20
Our tendency is to monitor our behavior while pretty much ignoring our hearts. After all, how do you monitor your heart? I can’t get too far off base in my behavior without somebody drawing it to my attention. But my heart? That seems a bit more complicated.
Jesus said something that still has huge implications today: “The things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart,” and then, “Out of the heart come evil thoughts.”
The heart is such a mystery. In fact, one prophet asked of the heart, “Who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). Good question. The implication is that nobody can. With which I readily concur. And even if we do begin to understand it, we certainly can’t control it—which is all the more reason we need to learn to monitor it. Like the seismic activity of a dormant volcano, what you don’t know can hurt you.
- Suddenly someone files for divorce.
- Suddenly a kid’s grades drop and his attitude changes.
- Suddenly a harmless pastime becomes a destructive habit.
- Out of nowhere devastating words pierce the soul of an unsuspecting loved one.
We’ve all seen it, felt it, even caused it. Just as Jesus predicted, what originates in the secrecy of our hearts won’t always remain a secret. Eventually it finds its way into our homes, offices, and neighborhoods.
The heart seeps into every conversation. It dictates every relationship. Our very lives emanate from the heart. We live, parent, lead, relate, romance, confront, react, respond, instruct, manage, problem solve, and love from the heart. Our hearts impact the intensity of our communication. Our hearts have the potential to exaggerate our sensitivities and insensitivities. Every arena of life intersects with what’s going on in our hearts. Everything passes through on its way to wherever it’s going. Everything.
We need the courage to ask the heavenly Father for help to watch over, understand, and purify our hearts. He is eager to respond and to show us how to replace old bad habits of the heart with new and better ones that will in time make us more like his Son.
In the next four days of these devotionals, we’ll be looking at four enemies of the heart that everyone faces.
Then some Pharisees and teachers of the law came to Jesus from Jerusalem and asked, “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? They don’t wash their hands before they eat!”
Jesus replied, “And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition? For God said, ‘Honor your father and mother’ and ‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.’ But you say that if anyone declares that what might have been used to help their father or mother is ‘devoted to God,’ they are not to ‘honor their father or mother’ with it. Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition. You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you:
“ ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.’ ”
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 15:1-20
What do your recent thoughts, words, and actions reveal about what’s going on in your heart? Ask someone close to you for his or her opinion about this as well.