After God gave the Jews 10 simple laws, they continued to add to those laws. Many of those laws dictated what a person could or could not eat. For hundred of years they continued to carefully watch what they ate to avoid being “defiled”. By the time Jesus came around, this had really become an obsession and a form of judgement. Now, not only should you not eat certain foods, but merely being associated with people who did could also defile you.
Then Jesus comes and clears up the confusion, thus making the current power brokers (the Pharisees) upset. He says “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 7:15). When the disciples asked him to further clarify, he explained that “evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness” are the things that flow from the heart and defile (v 21-22).
This concept got me thinking beyond food. If it’s what ‘comes out of us that defiles us’… then that means all things. When we feel wronged by someone, that hurt has ‘come into us’. However, when we respond, what ever comes out is what matters. I have always looked at this passage simply as Jesus stating that all foods are clean. But what He’s really saying is, pay more attention to what comes out than what goes in.
A long time ago, I saw a demonstration that is very applicable here. The speaker held up a lemon and said “If I squeeze this lemon into this pitcher, what will come out?” Although some expected a trick and said ‘Lemonade’, most responded ‘lemon juice’. Then he squeezed and surprised us all. We clearly saw a red liquid going into that pitcher. Then he said the following profound words… “When the right amount of pressure is applied, whatever is inside will come out”. We had all incorrectly judged a book by its cover (or a lemon by its rind). What we didn’t know is that the speaker had used a syringe to remove the lemon juice and replaced it with colored water.
The point of his demonstration was very simple. The pressures of life bring out what ever is inside of us.
What’s inside of you? What are you filling your heart with? When people ‘wrong’ you, does you heart fill with resentment, hatred or bitterness? If there is room in your heart, you can’t help it, but if you keep your heart filled with the love of Christ, there simply won’t be enough room for anything else. Then the next time you’re squeezed, the only thing that can come out is His love. I’ll bet the people who witness that will be just as surprised as the audience was when they watched red liquid fall from the lemon.
Be always filled with the love of Christ.