“But if the issues on Jesus’ list (Matthew 15:19-20) emanate from the heart, then clearly we need a new monitoring strategy. After all, if knew knew how to monitor our hearts, if we knew how to deal with trouble at its source, then perhaps we would see a marked improvement in our behavior.”- Andy Stanley
“Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them.”- Matthew 15:17-18 (NIV)
In Chapter 3 (“Simmering Volcanoes”) of Enemies of the Heart, Andy Stanley talks about rules Jewish religious leaders added to the Ten Commandments. By the time of Jesus’ earthly ministry, more than five hundred rules had been added. Religious leaders referred to them as “the Tradition of the Elders.”
However, to the continued chagrin of the Pharisees and Sadducees, Jesus paid scant attention to their traditions. In fact, Jesus seemed to go out of His way to violate their man-made laws. Thus, Matthew recorded one such incident in Matthew 15:1-20 (“Clean and Unclean”).
While the Pharisees and teachers of the law acted persnickety about handwashing from the fingertips to the elbows, Jesus voiced a greater concern. God’s more concerned about what comes out of our mouths than what we put in. Hence, God’s more offended by what comes out than by any possibly unclean food that goes in. However, this phrase is most important – “the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart.”
Somehow, then, the good – or bad – in our hearts eventually translates into words and deeds. That’s scary, Andy admits. Because it’s so hard to know what’s going on in our hearts. Furthermore, even if we do begin to understand our hearts, we’re certainly unable to control them. And the more reason, Pastor Stanley asserts, we clearly need a new monitoring strategy. For, like a simmering volcano, what you don’t know can hurt you.
Today’s question: What Bible verses sustain a new monitoring strategy for your heart? Please share.
Tomorrow’s blog: the annotated bibliography of Suffering