The human heart is like a river. It has both its source and its end in God, the Alpha and Omega. He is our Creator and the true fulfillment of all we seek and desire. Our heart is never still; it is always living and loving toward something. When we desire other things, more immediate or petty things, the currents of our heart spill over its banks toward some other destination. As streams split off and splinter the river, its flow is slowed and the water becomes stagnant and polluted. We must build up the banks of our heart and re-direct the flow of our desires back toward their toward goal: "Keep your heart with all vigilance; for form it flow the springs of life” (Proverbs 4:23). It is much easier to assign “unrighteousness” to some specific tangible thing than it is to discover the unrighteousness in the ambiguous depths and currents of one’s own soul. It is much easier to measure and control outer behaviors than to do the patient and painful work of purifying our the inner motives. Religious practices are only worthwhile insofar as they seek this goal. If they actually serve to obscure and neglect the heart, they do the double damage of deceiving us into thinking we are righteous when we are not (or vice versa).
- Read Mark 7:1–23.
- Ask God for the purity of heart to will and want only him.
- See the outraged Pharisees confront Jesus and his followers, then watch them react to Jesus' scathing response. Then observe Jesus' patience with the disciples’ confusion.
- Reflect on Jesus' single-minded devotion to the word and way of God. How does he distinguish between “God’s commandments” and “human traditions?”
- Practice the Examen today, using the guide from March 7. On step three, pay special attention to the things that stirred your emotions, desires, and gut-level reactions. Do you notice any of the things Jesus says come from the human heart (greed, lust, jealousy, deception, pride, or anger)? How do these things splinter and scatter your heart?
About the Author
Nick Chambers is the Director of Spiritual Formation at Calvary UMC