Heart-washing

Life Notes—August 27, 2009 

“For it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come: fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, folly.  All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.” Mark 7:21-23                                   

Jesus went on this diatribe in response to a group of Pharisees and scribes complaining that his disciples were not following the tradition of washing their hands prior to eating.  He tells them they are missing the point about what defiles a person.  In essence he says no amount of hand washing will clean a dirty, evil heart.  And this was a common theme of Jesus’ to the scribes and Pharisees—that they focused on the letter of the law and missed the spirit of the law.  They couldn’t see the forest for the trees. 

It seems to me most, if not all of the evil Jesus lists comes from a selfish heart.  Selfish-ness shrinks our world view so we see everything in terms of its impact on us, rather than the impact of our actions on those outside of us.  We focus on the tree (me) and miss the forest (others).  Once I was told by a friend in the corrections industry that what separates convicted criminals from the rest of us is a social conscience—they commonly fail to value the impact of their actions on others.  Evil results from a selfish heart. 

I know my own selfishness stems from a fear of lacking something I may want or may need someday, be it food or talent or diet cherry coke.  Honestly, I have never truly lacked for anything of substance in my life; but I often fear a lack of things, sometimes only in the quantities I desire them.  But there is no lasting satisfaction for those types of desires of and for the earth.  The hunger always returns and the renewed longing of the heart can lead us to seek satisfaction at an evil price.  And no amount of hand-washing will cleanse us.  When we turn those desires over to God and trust in God’s provision, our hearts can open and be filled to overflowing in ways previously unimaginable.  This is what Christ’s followers were doing, dirty hands and all. 

Tom’s sermon title is “What Are You Full of?” based on the scripture from Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23.  Life worship is at 10:45 in Brady Hall. Traditional worship is at 8:30 and 11:00. Contemporary worship on the west campus is at 9:30.  The teaching, fellowship and worship of Sunday morning at First Church may be just what you need for a good, spiritual heart-cleansing.  If not, we have plenty of sinks for a good hand-washing… 

Come home to worship this Sunday.  We’ll leave the Light on for you…

Greg Hildenbrand, Life Worship Music Coordinator

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