Below is a new devotion I just left on the Cove Presbyterian Church prayer line. You can find a recording of this devotion on the prayer line (1-304-748-7900) or on the Cove Presbyterian Church Podbean page.
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Then he called the crowd again and said to them, "Listen to me, all of you, and understand: there is nothing outside a person that by going in can defile, but the things that come out are what defile."
When he had left the crowd and entered the house, his disciples asked him about the parable. He said to them, "Then do you also fail to understand? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile, since it enters, not the heart but the stomach, and goes out into the sewer?" (Thus he declared all foods clean.) And he said, "It is what comes out of a person that defiles. For it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come: fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, folly. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person."
Last year, one of my favorite movies was Pixar’s Inside Out, a story about what was going on within the head of thirteen-year-old girl as she struggled with some of the changes that were occurring in her life. And even though it’s very different in it’s meaning, Jesus was also talking about an inside out situation in the passage we just read. I mean, right here, Jesus was contrasting what goes into the human body from the outside with what comes out of the body from the inside. And his conclusion was that people should be far more aware of the stuff that comes out than the stuff that goes in, because what goes in just passes through but what comes out can cause some real problems.
And I think that’s something we might want to remember. You see, I think we have a tendency to identify the problems we face and encounter as primarily external to ourselves. We blame them on our society and on certain groups. We blame them on drugs and alcohol. We even blame them on values and beliefs others might have. And without saying that certain external factors aren’t important, most are actually beyond our limited control. But if these things become the focus of our attention and energy, we ignore or neglect some stuff that we can influence, you know, things like how we act and talk, what we value and believe, and why we think and feel the way we do. You see, I think we really need to remember that what may be most important to the world around us is the stuff we hold on the inside coming out.