Matthew 15:10-20

“It is not what goes in the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.” (Matthew 15:11)

I’ve written before about what I see as an evolution, or a growth, of the law when Jesus said that it mattered not only what a person did, but what was in that person’s heart. Here, I see more of that growth. It isn’t your disobedience to the law that makes you unclean, it comes from the heart. Jesus says “what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person.” (Matthew 15:18)

Jesus is calling the people to honor the Lord not just with their lips, but with their hearts, a sentiment I value. (Matthew 15:8) It is easy to show someone respect to their face and hide disrespect in your heart, or behind their backs. This seems to be what he is telling the Pharisees as they attempt to call him out for not following the laws exactly as they do, that he may not wash his hands before eating, but he honors God in his heart and that matters more than a corruptible human practice.

“Blessed,” Jesus tells us, “are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” (Matthew 5:8) Over and over Jesus calls his followers to be pure of heart, that what matters to him is not the actions of praying or fasting, but the heart that does those things not with glory in mind, but thinking of obedience and faith in him and in his Father. (see Matthew 5:21-22, or 5:27-285:27-28)

I wish I could put together Jesus’ call for a pure heart with my own experiences and say that I believe purity is common in the Christian world, or that things are usually done with the call to God’s desires in mind.

I certainly can say that it does exist as I have good and dear friends who are pure and free of judgement, and who are faithful Christians.

Unfortunately, it was from within the church that I was taught to be ashamed of my body because the sight of me could cause men to sin by lusting in their hearts. It was from within the church that I was once asked to apologize to a man, and his wife, because my appearance, in jeans and a t-shirt, had caused him to sin, not in his own heart but against my actual body. I walked away with the bruises of what he’d done, but he walked away feeling injured because my appearance had tempted him and he had not resisted. Shortly after that an anonymous donation was made to my church, money dedicated to buying me more modest attire, something to cover my “dangerous” clavicle.

Blessed are the pure in heart, indeed.

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