Scripture: Mark 7:1-37
Observation: Jesus teaches a crowd of Pharisees and religious leaders about inner purity, concluding that it’s not what you eat or what you do that defiles you, but instead, it’s about the condition of your heart.
Application: Here’s what the Pharisees and teachers of religious law were really good at: following the rules.
Here’s what Jesus and his disciples were really good at: defying the rules.
From a young age, we’re taught the importance of “following the rules.” We’re commended for being a rule follower, for doing what we’re supposed to do when and how we’re supposed to do it. The Pharisees were no different – they not only followed the rules, they knew the rules inside and out. They prided themselves on being “by the book” and believed that following God meant doing what the law said to do and avoiding what the law said to avoid. Seems pretty straightforward thinking, right?
Well, it was. And then Jesus came, and he flipped that whole belief system on its head.
In this passage, the Pharisees call Jesus out for not following the Jewish food laws. Jesus retorts, showing them how they trust the law to fit their own traditions rather than being truly submitted to God. He has what we can only refer to as a “mic drop moment” in verse 15:
“It’s not about what goes into your body that defiles you; you are defiled by what comes from your heart.”
Here’s what he’s saying: It’s not about what you do, it’s about who you are.
So to all of my box checkers, my project completers, my Type A’ers, the truth is a relationship with Jesus isn’t about what you do. It’s about who you are. It isn’t about how many verses you read, good deeds you do, or how long you pray. It isn’t about how many Compassion children you sponsor or how much money you give or how much you serve. It’s about your heart. This reminder from Jesus is just for you:
“It is what comes from inside that defiles you.”
So, what’s on the inside of you? Is it pride or is it purity? Is it sexual immorality or is it a servant’s heart? Is it selfishness or selflessness?
Let go of the legalism. Release the rules. Serve with a submitted heart.
Prayer: God, I pray for the ability to have a submitted heart. I pray I won’t get caught up in checking boxes or following the rules, but rather in all and through all, put you first. I trust in you and who you are today; I lay myself down, recognizing I can do nothing without you. Amen.