Friday, February 26, 2010

What makes us dirty?

Good morning. Today’s scripture comes from Mark 7:20-23 (New Living Translation): And then (Jesus) added, “It is what comes from inside that defiles you. For from within, out of a person’s heart, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, lustful desires, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. All these vile things come from within; they are what defile you.”

The Hebrews had hundreds of Mosaic Laws to follow, but over time, the Jews added many just as many traditions to be kept, too, thus making it extremely difficult to live a righteous life. The Pharisees, in Mark 7, again were trying to trap Jesus into preaching blasphemy, but he outsmarted them – again. They were questioning why his disciples ate with “unclean hands,” meaning they didn’t rinse their hands before eating, as prescribed by the Law.

Jesus went off on them, telling them that what they ate wasn’t what defiles a person; it’s what comes from the heart. Some of the terms used for defiled are “unclean” or to make “dirty” in the Greek. defines defiled as tainted or polluted. In terms of sexuality, it means to “violate the chastity,” which could be anything from sex outside marriage to rape. Anything from the Sports Illustrated swim suit issue to the Victoria’s Secrets lingerie catalogs are off-limits to us, because they set our minds racing toward lustful thoughts.

Jesus was after more than just the appearance of godliness, as the Pharisees were prone to; he wanted right hearts. Every evil action begins with a single thought. Lust, envy, hatred or revenge all begin in our hearts. Paul advised the Philippians to, instead, focus on whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely and admirable (Phil. 4:8). Paul, too, knew the battle was in our minds and our hearts. Right thoughts lead to right actions.

Satan knows the battle is for our minds, so he tries to fill them with garbage. Think about what’s out there these days in magazines, books, the Internet, movies and TV. Not much of it is pure and lovely; it’s all about greed and sex. It’s even harder to live a righteous life today because of the many obstacles we face. In my house, we don’t watch R movies that have sexual content. When we go through the video store looking for something to view, the first thing we check is to see what it’s rated and why. It’s really hard to find a good movie that isn’t rated R any more. People must think we’re crazy looking at a DVD, then quickly turning them back over and move on, but it’s worth it to keep the trash out of our home. As single parents, we need a clean house for our kids' sake.

How does this apply to my life?

Today’s prayer: Lord, help me to keep my mind on you and not on those things that defile my heart. Help me to think of the lovely things you’ve given me in my life and to focus on them. Amen

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