The Inside-Out of the Spiritual Life

“He [Jesus] went on: ‘What comes out of a person is what 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 7:20-23)

Responding to the Pharisees’ obsession over human tradition, Jesus calls His disciples and other hearers to an engagement with the true issue of cleanness and defilement in human life. Jesus tells us it is not what goes into a person that defiles them but what comes out of a person that defiles them. Why? Because what comes out reveals what is brewing inside of us.

Our evil actions and words are a result of what is within. What is seen or heard on the outside offers a view into what is inside. The deep places of our souls—the interior life or the inner being—is where we cultivate either true holiness or desecration.

This should give us great pause for reflection. What do our words reveal about who we are? What do our actions reveal about who we are? What do others around us see through our words and actions that may offer insight about who we are that is clearer than how we see ourselves?

Jeremiah the prophet once said, “The heart is deceitful about all things. Who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). May God clean and refine us from the inside out.

Lord, please search through my heart and purify me of all I have allowed to linger inside of me that contributes to my sin and defilement. Have mercy, O Lord, have mercy. Heal me, O Lord, please heal me. In all things give me an undivided heart that I might revere You and Your name.

Training with a Purpose

ice bowlWhether it’s getting ready for the Super Bowl or just heading out for a jog, everyone knows that you have to train in order to succeed at a sport. No good coach expects a team to be ready for a championship on day one. It takes steady, disciplined training to develop toward that goal.

I was reading Scripture the other day when these words of the Apostle Paul arrested my attention:

Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. (1 Timothy 4:7-8)

When Paul says the words “train yourself to be godly” he’s talking about, as one scholar writes, “a vigorous development and application of all his strength and ability.” The Greek word used here is the same one from which we derive our word ‘gymnasium’. Simply put, Paul is talking about Read More »