In Matthew 15, Jesus is very critical of the religious leaders during his time, which were among the group called the Pharisees. In verses 1-14, the Pharisees had criticized Jesus and his disciples for not following their traditions about “washing their hands” before they ate, as if it was a salvation issue for them. Now, it is definitely a good idea to wash your hands before you eat; in fact, I definitely recommend doing so. However, when we make such small matters an issue for the salvation of others, it becomes a problem.
Jesus goes on to tell them that it is the things that come out of our hearts that affect our salvation, not merely the things that we put into our bodies in verse 15-20. You see, God is more concerned about our hearts than he is with our religious duties. Praying and worshiping before God is good, but if it isn’t done with the right motives, it does not profit you at all. We need to develop a heart within ourselves that is truly committed to our God. 1 Samuel 16:7 says that “man looks at the outward appearance, but YHWH (God) looks at the heart.”
Jesus tells us that we can know whether our hearts are good or corrupt by what they are producing in our life. If you are producing evil thoughts, hatred, sexual immoralities, lies, and more, then you need to have a change of heart. However, if you have a good heart that is led by the Holy Spirit, you will produce these things: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23).
A good biblical example for us to follow would be that of King David. If you know the story of King David from 1 and 2 Samuel, God calls him a “man after His own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14). What a compliment from the Creator of the universe! Wouldn’t you like to be described by God in this way? You see, David was concerned with the things of God and longed to worship Him. His whole heart was devoted to making his God pleased.
I encourage you today to look at your life and ask yourself, “What am I producing?” If you are lacking in some area in your life, repent and start making a change. Although King David was a highly spiritual man, he also fell deep into sin, just like we all do. If that is your situation today, I encourage you to pray to God the same words that David prayed in Psalm 51:
“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence, and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and sustain me with a willing spirit.”