“Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come.” 1 Timothy 4:8
In this day and age that is a hard verse to swallow. These are the days when data is out about the ‘runniest’ cities and the healthiest towns. Individuals you would never dream of are running 5ks and more. Then there is the issue of childhood obesity which has gone all the way to the White House with the First Lady herself getting personally involved. Gyms are opening almost as quick as fast food restaurants around the country because everyone wants to be in shape, everyone is concerned about their health. “The Biggest Loser” has become one of the most popular shows on television.
Look around during the lunch hour and you see many people out using that time not for food but walking to keep in shape. Every smart phone now has an ‘app’ to help you record steps, check calories, manage sugar and salt intake and the list goes on and on. It is a wonderful thing to see a generation looking after the one body they have, keeping it in optimal shape.
However, according to the words of Jesus as great as that is, it still isn’t enough.
Character checking VS Calorie counting
In Matthew 15 the Pharisees demanded of Jesus why it is that His disciples disobeyed the tradition of washing their hands before they ate. Reasonable question? Shockingly Jesus called them hypocrites, not because of their question but as He explains later, because of their hearts.
Jesus’ response may not sit well with many today because we are reminded everywhere that washing hands prevents the spread of germs, which by the way is true. Signs have been posted all over bathrooms telling employees to wash their hands before coming back to the job and hand sanitizer is now practically seen on the counter of every corner store .
Yet Jesus rebuked the Pharisees and told them they had made God’s word of no effect by these same man made traditions.
Like many today the Pharisees looked at outward signs to declare whether a man was spiritually clean or not. His heart could be far from God but as long as he washed his hands before eating and all the other traditional stuff he was essentially good to go. As long as he was at church every Sunday did it really matter if he was always critical of the brethren?
What did it matter if he was disrespectful to his parents?
What did it matter if he neglected his responsibilities to his own children ?
What did it matter if he was unfaithful to his wife, or even a slacker on his job?
The Word says in 1 Samuel that while man looks outwardly at actions and appearances God looks on the heart.
Jesus told the crowd in Matthew 15:11 then and He tells us now: “It’s not what goes into your mouth that defiles you, you are defiled by the words that come out of your mouth.”
Some of us eat the very best food we can get. Our fruits and vegetables must always be organic, our steak always the best cut, no extra fat or skin on our chicken and so on. Our bodies are well taken care of. We either have gym membership, follow along on exercise videos or we create our own physical training program which does wonders for our body.
Yet our hearts get offended easily.
We hold resentment against others.
We speak with disdain about family members or coworkers.
Jesus continued to say what we eat goes through our digestive system then comes out, but what comes out of our mouths represents what is actually in our hearts: evil thoughts, slander, sexual immorality, lying and more (Matt 11:19).
We can eat well all the time and still be very mean and selfish.
As important as it is to take care of our physical bodies it is so much more important to take care of our hearts. Taking good care of our hearts produces life both on the inside and outside.
What kind of people are we to watch our calories but not our mouths?
Spiritual uncleanness comes from within even if we look clean on the outside.
Proverbs encourages us to guard our hearts for out of them comes the issues of life. If you don’t understand why you say some of the things you do, look into your heart. You desire to be a kinder, more compassionate person but still find yourself being continually mean to others? It’s not just a bad habit, it is a heart problem.
Experts in the area of physical health tell us to make sure we have a rainbow of color on our plates when we eat. Colorful foods such as orange carrots, green cucumbers, red or green grapes, yellow bananas, blue berries, red strawberries are all foods that provide health benefits beyond basic nutrition.
But what if we eat all the colors and still inside our hearts it is dark?
We think and speak of ways to get back at someone. We hold things against others or we keep records of the wrongs they have done us, rehearsing them over and over again. We decide that we will forgive some things but not others. We gossip about our workmates and our church family.
What really is on the plate of our hearts?
I don’t just want to count calories so that my body looks good and healthy. I want my character to be defined by what comes out of my mouth, not by what goes in it.
I am working at improving my physical health by drinking more water, walking everyday, not eating so much cake and candy (which has been very hard 🙂 ) and trying to eat better overall.
However I don’t want my stomach to be filled with good food and my heart filled with unkindness.
I want to be a woman who genuinely care about others and show it with my words as well as my actions. I don’t just want my children to emulate my good eating habits. I want them to take note of my words and my actions of love that accompany those words. I want them to see my heart.
I will purpose to continually look into the mirror of the Word to show me what my heart is like and then allow It to cleanse me (John 15:3).
Our initial scripture today tells us not to just look after ourselves physically but to take stock of our hearts, for the physical will only benefit us in this lifetime. What comes from our hearts and out of our mouths is what will last for eternity.
It’s time to watch what we put on our heart’s plate.
Pause and Ponder
What is the real state of my heart? That’s a question all of us should ask ourselves. Don’t let us define ourselves by what we eat and what we wear, but like the Word says we should search our hearts. Our bodies will only last for this time but what we put in our hearts will serve us for eternity.
Lord, we turn our hearts over to you today. We are so grateful that never would You ask something of us and don’t help us with it. We thank You for Your Holy Spirit Who guides and leads us into all truth. Show us our real hearts and help us to keep watch on them, for we know that what we speak comes from deep inside. We thank You for continually washing and cleansing us, in Jesus name. Amen
Blessings and thank you for reading.