From the Inside Out

By Ricky Chelette

“Hear me, all of you, and understand: There is nothing outside a person that by going into him can defile him, but the things that come out of a person are what defile him.” – Mark 7:14b-15

We are a body-obsessed nation. One report says that the fitness industry will rake in over $24 billion dollars this next year. The ASAPS (American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery) reports that Women had more than 10.3 million cosmetic procedures, 90.6% of the total. The number of cosmetic procedures for women increased over 471% from 1997. Men had more than 1 million cosmetic procedures, 9.4% of the total. The number of cosmetic procedures for men increased over 273% from 1997.

Sales of organic products in the United States jumped to $35.1 billion in 2013, up 11.5% from the previous year’s $31.5 billion and the fastest growth rate in five years.

And though I believe Jesus wants us to care for our body (the temple of the Holy Spirit – 1 Cor. 6:19) with good food and exercise, He is even more concerned about our heart. When life isn’t going well, when we are stressed, pressured, or something doesn’t go our way, whatever is already in our heart comes out of us. Often times, it is neither pretty nor Christ-like.

In Mark, Jesus was instructing the disciples about the things that defiled a person. For the Jew, strict dietary laws ruled whether something was clean or unclean. Unclean foods were not allowed. Clean foods were. It was as though to eat pork made one unclean and bad, while eating fish with scales made one clean and good. Jesus tries to show them that following the law, though good and seemingly obedient, did not actually change the condition of a person’s heart – the point of His teaching. They were so concerned with following tradition they missed the bigger truth Jesus was teaching them. It is easy for us to do the same.

It is always in the crucible moments of life that we see our heart. Jeremiah 17:9 reminds us, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?”

The only way we can transform the heart is to allow the Word of God, His truth, to wash away the wickedness and replace the lies we so often believe, with the truth of God. When our heart grows in new affections for the things of God rather than the satisfaction of pleasures, we will find ourselves living different lives, and responding to others with the grace, mercy and understanding we have received.

What is your reaction to this morning’s traffic? How do you respond when the check out lane you are in places the “closed” sign just as it is your turn? What do you say to the ticket agent when your flight has just been canceled or postponed causing you to miss your connecting flight? How many times have you passed the person asking for money at the intersection thinking, “just get a job!”? Maybe this new year we should spend less time worried about our appearance and our diet and more time joining David in praying,

“Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” (Ps. 139:23-24)