This morning’s devotion was written by Todd Brewer

Again Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen to me, everyone, and understand this. Nothing outside a person can defile them by going into them. Rather, it is what comes out of a person that defiles them… For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and defile a person.” (Mark 7:14-15, 21-23, NIV)

Jesus is talking about the origin of the great problems of life and how, in response to them, we try to externalize our problems and project them onto other people or circumstances. We naturally dissociate the troubles in our lives by drawing them off to external causes. This is what people mean when they talk about something being a ‘bad influence.’ We often say that movies or music or the ‘wrong crowd’ is the problem, but Jesus says that these things don’t make someone “unclean.”

This presents more problems down the road. Because we think the problem is external, we tend to think that the solution is external as well. This explains the popularity of diets, the new motorcycles of middle-aged men, the search for the most fulfilling job. In light of the problems of our lives, we try to change the externals of our life in hopes that the deeper things might change.

But Jesus says that the problems of our life come from the corruption of our hearts. Out of the heart come the hurtful comments that destroy relationships with children. Out of the heart comes the insensitivity to the obvious needs of others. Out of the heart comes the reluctance to answer an email from an estranged friend.

If the problem lies internally within our hearts, the question is: what can change the heart? The heart is changed through being loved. Or as that great John Newton hymn puts it, “Weak is the effort of my heart, and cold my warmest thought; But when I see Thee as Thou art, I’ll praise Thee as I ought.”