Thursday, April 9, 2015

The Heart of The Matter

Scripture Texts: Mark 7:14-30; Psalm 8

Jesus almost always views the world around him in a different way than the religious leaders. There was an intricate system of rules and regulations. Foods that could be eaten and others that could not. A strict process of hand washing before, during and after a meal. Especially high on the list was the company that a person kept, there were some people a godly person just did not have dinner with according to the religious leaders.

In this passage in Mark Jesus challenges the long held beliefs. The origin of what defiles is not found in the externals of life, food, washing, the company kept, as much as it is found in the condition of a persons heart.

The woman that came to Jesus was troublesome from a religious leader perspective. At first it looks like even Jesus was going to treat her with contempt, until he changes his treatment of her. It is possible the change was Jesus plan all along to highlight what he had taught just moments before. No matter what the reason, we find Jesus emphasizing the condition of the heart over the externals of religion.

In a marriage it is important to pay attention to this teaching. We might do all the external things right. Kind treatment of each other, spending time together, acts of love both physical and verbal, and many others may be a regular part of our relationship. Yet the real measure is the condition of our heart toward our spouse. The health of a marriage can only be assessed by the condition of the hearts joined in the marriage.

This means keeping our hearts free of things that would do harm. Jealousy, bitterness and anger are the most likely candidates to cause problems, however they are not the only ones. Purity in heart requires us to be vigilant about what is happening in our heart. We must monitor the condition of our heart and when things are not right we must do the work to have the condition of our heart repaired.

When the condition of our heart toward our spouse and toward God is in the right place all the external signs of a healthy marriage take on deeper meaning. Time together, kind treatment, acts of love, and all the other external expressions of marriage are very important, just not as important as the condition of our heart when we engage in them.

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