Andy Stanley: Enemies of the Heart
Devotional Day 1
“The Simmering Volcano”
Scripture: Matthew 15:1-20
Our tendency is to monitor our behavior while pretty much ignoring our hearts. After all, how do you monitor your heart? I can’t get too far off base in my behavior without somebody drawing it to my attention. But my heart? That seems a bit more complicated.
Jesus said something that still has huge implications today: “The things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart,” and then, “Out of the heart come evil thoughts.”
The heart is such a mystery. In fact, one prophet asked of the heart, “Who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). Good question. The implication is that nobody can. With which I readily concur. And even if we do begin to understand it, we certainly can’t control it—which is all the more reason we need to learn to monitor it. Like the seismic activity of a dormant volcano, what you don’t know can hurt you.
Suddenly someone files for divorce.
Suddenly a kid’s grades drop and his attitude changes.
Suddenly a harmless pastime becomes a destructive habit.
Out of nowheredevastating words pierce the soul of an unsuspecting loved one.
We’ve all seen it, felt it, even caused it. Just as Jesus predicted, what originates in the secrecy of our hearts won’t always remain a secret. Eventually it finds its way into our homes, offices, and neighborhoods.
The heart seeps into every conversation. It dictates every relationship. Our very lives emanate from the heart. We live, parent, lead, relate, romance, confront, react, respond, instruct, manage, problem solve, and love from the heart. Our hearts impact the intensity of our communication. Our hearts have the potential to exaggerate our sensitivities and insensitivities. Every arena of life intersects with what’s going on in our hearts. Everything passes through on its way to wherever it’s going. Everything.
We need the courage to ask the heavenly Father for help to watch over, understand, and purify our hearts. He is eager to respond and to show us how to replace old bad habits of the heart with new and better ones that will in time make us more like his Son.
In the next four days of these devotionals, we’ll be looking at four enemies of the heart that everyone faces.
What do your recent thoughts, words, and actions reveal about what’s going on in your heart? Ask someone close to you for his or her opinion about this as well.
Then came to Jesus scribes and Pharisees, which were of Jerusalem, saying, Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread. But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition? For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death. But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; And honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition. Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. And he called the multitude, and said unto them, Hear, and understand: Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man. Then came his disciples, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Pharisees were offended, after they heard this saying? But he answered and said, Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up. Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch. Then answered Peter and said unto him, Declare unto us this parable. And Jesus said, Are ye also yet without understanding? Do not ye yet understand, that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught? But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man.
Matthew 15:1-20 KJV