Defiled from the Inside Out

Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
Laitylodge bones

“It’s not what goes into your body that defiles you; you are defiled by what comes from your heart.”

Mark 7:15

In the first century A.D., the Pharisees were among the most zealous of Jews when it came to keeping the Law of God. Yet they found it easy to focus on externals and neglect matters of the heart. This was true, for example, when it came to the question of what foods to eat and what to avoid. The Pharisees had elaborate measures by which to determine what was kosher and what was not. But they were often filled with pride concerning their own holiness, looking down upon average Jews who were not able to live up to Pharisaic standards.

Jesus criticized the Pharisees for caring so much about externals that they neglect the things that matter most. “It’s not what goes into your body that defiles you,” he said, “you are defiled by what comes from your heart” (7:15). Thus all people, including the Pharisees, ought to focus more on what’s inside of them and how this gets expressed in actions.

In our culture, many people are obsessed with what they eat and don’t eat. People count calories. They watch for how much sodium and fat are in their foods. They are endlessly worried about what they take into their body. This is not a bad thing. Indeed, many of us would do well to watch what we eat more closely. But Jesus reminds us to keep our priorities in the right place. If I eat only healthy foods but am a rotten person on the inside, then I’m living my life backwards. Eating right does matter, of course. But even more important is the rightness of our hearts and how we live out this rightness in our core relationships.

QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: What is the state of your heart today? Are there matters of the heart you need to confess today, so that God might forgive you and set you free?

PRAYER: Gracious God, you see everything in my life. My heart is an open book to you. You know all of those things that pollute my inner being and flow out into my daily life. So I ask you, Lord, to cleanse my heart. Show me what I need to confess to you so that I might be forgiven and healed. Purify my heart, dear Lord, so that I might be wholly devoted to you.

I pray today in the words of Psalm 51:

Create in me a clean heart, O God.
Renew a loyal spirit within me.
Do not banish me from your presence,
and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and make me willing to obey you.


Image courtesy of Laity Lodge, one of our sister programs in the Foundations for Laity Renewal.