Monday, April 27
Cleanse my heart
Scripture: 2 Samuel 3, 1 Chronicles 12, Matthew 15
Matthew 15:10–11 Then Jesus called to the crowd to come and hear. “Listen,” he said, “and try to understand. 11 It’s not what goes into your mouth that defiles you; you are defiled by the words that come out of your mouth.”
Matthew 15:16–20 “Don’t you understand yet?” Jesus asked. 17 “Anything you eat passes through the stomach and then goes into the sewer. 18 But the words you speak come from the heart—that’s what defiles you. 19 For from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, all sexual immorality, theft, lying, and slander. 20 These are what defile you. Eating with unwashed hands will never defile you.”
When Jesus’ disciples failed to wash their hands before dinner, ignoring the accepted tradition of a ceremonial religious washing, the Pharisees confronted Jesus. He corrected them for putting their traditions above God’s word, and then dismissed their hand-washing tradition with a sweeping statement about what makes a person unclean: it’s not what goes into you (food), but what comes out of you (words and actions).
It’s the sin in our hearts, and what comes out of our hearts that makes us unclean. Mark tells us that by saying this, Jesus declared all foods clean—negating the Jewish food laws as a way to be clean before God. Even more, Jesus rejected the entire external clean-unclean division. It’s not about externals; it’s about our hearts.
Jesus may be the most irreligious leader ever!
For all of us who pride ourselves in externals, this story is a blow to our world! God looks at the heart. We might put on a good show for everyone else, have all our externals lined up and shiny, but God is never fooled. He sees what we hide inside.
All that stuff that Jesus said resides in our hearts—evil thoughts, murder, adultery, all sexual immorality, theft, lying, and slander—all those have been in my heart. One of my consistent prayers is “Cleanse my heart.” Make me clean inside and out. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” Matthew 5:8. That’s what I want to be.
And that is something that only Jesus can do. As I discover those ugly things in me, I bring them to Jesus and ask Him to cleanse my heart. And He does. But I have to keep coming back—it’s not a one time thing—it’s a regular bath!
1 John 1:9 But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.
Prayer: Thank you Lord for freeing me from religion, but also from the sin in my heart. Cleanse my heart!