Wednesday, July 17th, 2019
But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man. Matt. 15:18-20
In part one of You Are Not What You Eat, we examined the false teaching of the Pharisees where they were more concerned with washing their hands, or appearing very religious, while neglecting to clean their insides where it matters most. Elsewhere in Matthew, Jesus addressed their hypocrisy calling their attention to the matters of the heart: “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess” (Matt. 23:25). Last time we learned from Jesus’ teaching that it is not what you put in your mouth that makes you unclean, but it is what comes out of your mouth (Matt. 15:11). In today’s passage, Jesus elaborates on exactly where this outflow comes from. He said, “For out of the heart proceed evil thought, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies;”
We know that Jesus strengthened the law in several instances in his Sermon on the Mount. For example, he not only affirmed that coveting your neighbor’s wife was wrong, but he added that lusting after her in your heart was also wrong (Matt. 5:27-28). So that should help us understand that today’s profound passage not only deals with the thoughts contained within the heart, but it teaches us the source of this sin-list. I mean, people would still be unclean if they only thought murderous thoughts, but the world would be a better place in that the murder rate would be zilch. If Cain could somehow have contained his murderous thoughts, then Able would have lived. The point is that the heart is an incubator of thoughts, whether good or bad. Back to the lust example, James lays out the process in great detail: first, a man is tempted; then he is drawn away by his own lust and enticed; then when lust has conceived, it brings forth sin; and when sin is finished, it brings forth death (James 1:14-15). With that in mind, think about what Jesus is saying here; it is a dangerous thing to harbor thoughts of lust, murder, lies, stealing, blasphemy, or evil thoughts of any kind because, just like seeds, they will sprout and produce a harvest! We have to, with God’s help, get the weeds out of our garden, or our hearts, because remember, Jesus said the stuff coming out of man’s mouth from his heart is what defiles him.
I want us to look closer at what Jesus is saying about the heart, or the source of these evil thoughts. Jesus explained that it was “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh” (Matt. 12:34). Jesus, describing this incubator in detail, said:
A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. Matt. 12:35
So this means that our heart can either be a good incubator or a bad one. You can produce a harvest of sins like Jesus listed: lust, murder, lies, stealing, blasphemy, evil thoughts. Or you could produce a harvest of love and good deeds, lending a helping hand, reconciling with others, being a peace maker, good thoughts. Although Jesus made this statement in the context of storing up earthly possessions, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also,” it would also apply here as well (Matt. 6:21). In other words, your heart will gravitate to the things you treasure. It all starts with what you treasure in your heart, but it doesn’t end there.
The final component in the process is your mouth. I heard a wise man once say, “A thought unspoken dies unborn.” Again, you don’t want to defile yourself by harboring evil thoughts, but at least you don’t give birth to them unless you speak them. That is more or less just in theory though, because thoughts rarely, if ever, just sit in the incubator. As Jesus said the all-important step of speaking will soon follow because, “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.” You will speak what your full of, and when you align your mouth with what’s in your heart, soon you’re going to give birth to something, either good or bad. Notice the importance Jesus places on our word choice:
But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned. Matt. 12:36-37
You will be justified, placed in right-standing with God, or condemned, remain separated from God, all by what you say. In other words, how we fair on judgment day, will all be determined by our choice of words in the present while alive here on planet earth. The clearest example of this choice is the one Jesus gave in his parable of the Publican and the Pharisee found in Luke 18:9-14. Let’s recount the two prayers. The Pharisee went to the temple to pray, and his pray went something like this: “God, I thank you that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, and even as this publican.” The publican, standing way off, wouldn’t even lift his eyes up to heaven. Beating his breast, he prayed, “God be merciful to me a sinner.” Jesus said, this man (the publican) went home “justified rather than the other.”
There is a whole lot more to be said about our choice of words and the power contained within them, but we will have to leave it here with this thought, we will all have to give an account of every idle word that we speak on judgment day. Each time I read this I think, if there are idle words there must be action words that we ought to be speaking! Solomon, knowing the power of what we say, put it this way: “Death and life are in the power of the tongue” (Prov. 18:21). David, also aware of the power of words, prayed, “Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth” (Ps. 141:3). Coming full circle, you are not what you eat, but you are what you say. So, let us choose wisely our words, for first and foremost, our eternity depends on them. But also, secondly, think of the crop of bad things that could be avoided today, or the harvest of good things that could be set in motion if we would simple speak well.