“15 Peter said to Him, ‘Explain the parable to us.’ 16 Jesus said, “Are you still lacking in understanding also? 17’ Do you not understand that everything that goes into the mouth passes into the stomach, and is eliminated? 18 But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders. 20 These are the things which defile the man; but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile the man.’”
I am sure, as a fisherman, Peter ate lots of meals with dirty hands. When you are out on a boat it’s hard to use soap to clean up to eat. So, when Jesus answered the Pharisees this way about their concern they hadn’t washed their hands before eating the grain, he probably smirked a little. Still, he wanted to make sure he understood what Jesus was saying.
Why are some people so concerned about how they look on the outside, but their thoughts and words are filthy? If we had a machine in church on Sundays that could read the minds of the people as they came in the doors, we would probably be appalled. Jesus plainly tells us here that it is our inner thoughts and our words that defile us. Yes, washing our hands are important. But our inner cleanliness is so much more important.
I bet when your children were little you washed their hands a lot, didn’t you? As they get older you teach them to wash their own hands and ask them before dinner, “Did you wash your hands?” What a perfect verse to discuss their spiritual cleanliness. Why not ask them at dinner, “Did you speak harshly to your sister today?” Instead of asking them, “Did you use soap to wash your hands?” ask them if they thought about the words they used today when they got upset at the video game.
It is so important to teach our children to guard their tongues. I have often said that words are like toothpaste. Once they are out you can’t stuff them back in the tube. Teach them to choose their words carefully. And if they do slip up, teach them how to make it right. Apologize. Ask for forgiveness. That’s another skill missing today.
Are you more concerned about how you appear to others than what’s in your heart? If you will flip that around, you won’t have to worry so much about how you appear. Your inwards thoughts will be reflected on the outside. Pause and think before speaking, even if what you are going to say may sound “spiritual.” Sometimes that is just not the right thing to say at the time.
I am thankful Your Spirit can guard my tongue. Help me surrender to You before each word is spoken. May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing in Your sight, O Lord.