May 11

Text: Matthew l5:17-20

"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.  For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders.  These are the things which defile the man; but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile the man." (NASB)

Entrenched thinking closes minds.  At times we have thought things for such a long time that those thoughts simply must be true.  We despise anything that challenges us to consider valid information.  We have a “pat” answer for every situation, for every challenge to our thoughts.

Over 50 years ago I had an older friend who did not think that calories existed.  He had never seen one, handled one, or tasted one.  Since he could not see calories, they did not and could not exist.

He was significantly overweight, ate an enormous amount of food, and continually went to the doctor with serious health problems caused by overeating and weight.  The doctor continually tried to convince him to reduce his calories, and he continually denied that calories existed.

Finally, this person decided to compromise with his doctor.  He asked if he ate one meal a day, would his  doctor be happy.  The doctor said, “Yes.”  So the man asked his wife to prepare (around noon) all he would eat in a day—literally 3 meals at once!  He remained at the table until he ate everything at one sitting!

In a while he died because he never understood the problem—after all, calories did not exist!

The 12 had identified purity with the ceremony of hand washing for so long they did not understand the problem.  They thought that purity was produced by external acts, not by internal condition. 

Thus a person could be holy while thinking evil thoughts and even expressing evil desires if he externally followed the “approved” religious traditions.  The difficulty: what went in the mouth was ingested with no power to make holy or impure.  What the person thought and desired was the foundation of all evil done.  Holiness and evil begin with thought and desire.

Suggestion for reflection: What is your concept of evil?  (Read James 1:12-18.)

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 Copyright 2011 David Chadwell