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February 21

Mark 7:14-23

14 Summoning the crowd again, he told them, “Listen to me, all of you, and understand: 15 Nothing that goes into a person from outside can defile him but the things that come out of a person are what defile him.” 17 When he went into the house away from the crowd, his disciples asked him about the parable. 18 He said to them, “Are you also as lacking in understanding? Don’t you realize that nothing going into a person from the outside can defile him? 19 For it doesn’t go into his heart but into the stomach and is eliminated” (thus he declared all foods clean ). 20 And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. 21 For from within, out of people’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immoralities, thefts, murders, 22 adulteries, greed, evil actions, deceit, self-indulgence, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within and defile a person.” — Mark 7:14-23

Character Comes From The Heart

by Travis Simpson
Lockeland Springs Campus

True character is proven when tested. Whether the test comes at your workplace, while at home with family members, or when you are all alone (and think no one is aware)—true character is revealed when tested. We all admire those men and women who show their great character in moments of testing: Rosa Parks, Winston Churchill, etc.

In this passage, Jesus was talking with the religious leaders of His day when this truth came to light. The religious leaders were pointing their fingers at the disciples, who were not adhering to one of the religious laws of the time pertaining to what they were eating. Jesus responded by bringing to light the fact that the leaders were abusing another law in their own lives. In so doing, Jesus revealed that true character is what comes out of a person’s heart when tested, rather than what a person puts into his body.

Jesus then spoke directly with the disciples, listing the ways people show their fallible character. He told them those actions, thoughts, and words defile people because they originate in the heart of the person. In other words, Jesus was saying that true character is what comes out of a person’s heart, not what they put into their stomach.

So, how do we effect change in our own hearts in order to produce true, godly character instead of defiling our person? We do this by emulating our Lord. Just as Jesus spent time alone studying the Scripture, talking with the Father, worshipping, and fasting, we also can practice these spiritual disciplines. Authentic time spent with the Lord allows His Spirit to change our hearts. It is in this time that our character is further molded into the likeness of the Lord. Then, when tested, our true character begins to honor our Lord instead of defiling our self.

Praxis

  1. How will you become more available for the Lord to change your heart and character this week?
  2. How will you practice these new characteristics with others?
  3. Will you ask others to help keep you accountable in this journey of change?