Scripture Reading: Matthew 15: 10-20 “Understand what defiles a person”
Text: Colossians 4: 6
Defilement means to corrupt or ruin something or to damage somebody’s reputation or good name. It also means to make a holy or sacred thing or place no longer fit for use; or to pollute and make something dirty. The Pharisees and the Scribes were tasking Jesus about his disciples transgressing the traditions of the elders by not washing their hand before eating (Matthew 19: 1-2). Jesus used the opportunity to teach them a great lesson that what goes into the stomach does not defile a man but what comes out of the person that defiles him or her (Matthew 19: 11; Mark 7: 15).
What is the lesson from these admonition? While explaining the parable to his disciples, Jesus told them in Mark 7: 20-23, that those things that proceeded from out of the heart of man like evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness (provoking lust for sex), envy, slander, pride, and all other folly; are the things that defile a person (Romans 1: 26-32; 1 Corinthians 9-10), and not failure to wash hand before meal. In this regard, Jesus was not condemning hand-washing, but was trying to focus the attention of the accusers of his disciples to weightier things like breaking God’s commandments (Mark 7: 6-13) such as not honoring parents and misusing of the tongue, rather than mere human tradition of hand-washing.
There is nothing else that defiles a person like words that come out of our mouth. That is while Apostle James in James 3: 6 described the tongue as fire and world of iniquity. James then stated that if any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, verse 2. He further lamented that man has been able to device some means of taming virtually everything on earth, except the tongue, (verses 7 and 8), which no one has been able to tame. What a tragedy?
Inciting words and hate speeches are known to have sparked-off genocide and civil wars in many countries. Relationships, no matter how strong have been broken through the power of the tongue. Unfortunately, according to James, it is with the tongue that we bless God and also use it to curse men (James 3: 9-12). We are witnesses how people misused their tongue even in the sanctuary of God. This is not supposed to be so. As believers, we can avoid improper use of our tongue through the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit.
In our 4th sermon, we presented the manifestation of the Holy Spirit, which emphasized that we must be filled with the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5: 18). When the word of God is in our hearts, what comes out would definitely be with grace, seasoned with salt (Colossians 4: 6). Salt in this context is very important. Salt is a preservative, which does not allow spoilage, decay or deterioration in quality. We have noted that out of the heart proceeded things that defile a man. This situation only exist in a carnal man. However, the heart of a righteous man harbors God’s words, and when he opens the mouth, he speaks grace, which is able to heal and preserve.
As believers we must allow the word of God to fill our heart and we should control what we say and how we say it. Unguarded word without grace and affection, which is unable to build good relationship should not come out of our mouth. James has stated that bitter envy and strife bred confusion and every evil work (James 3: 13-16); but those who are peace makers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of goodness (James 3: 18). Therefore, we must strive to live in peace, and show out of good conversation our good works (James 3: 13) or else we shall receive the greater condemnation (James 3: 1). It is my prayer that we shall not be condemned because of our tongue.
Prayer: We are grateful to you LORD for revealing to us those things that defile a man. Help us to control our tongue so that we shall not be condemned on the last day because of careless words said without considering your words that supposed to guide us – Amen.