There was a Pixar movie that came out a while back called “Inside Out.” It was about the inner world of a little girl and how her memories and her experiences shaped who she was and how she perceived herself and her world. What happens on our inside often directs how we behave on the outside. Does this experience sound familiar to you?
In Matthew’s gospel, there is a confrontation between Jesus and the Pharisees. The Pharisees were busy correcting behaviors and consequently missing God’s presence; eat this, don’t eat that, work on this day, but not on that day. They valued the law more than the person. A Pharisee is a dead disciple; a rule follower that has no beating heart.
It is not what enters into the mouth that defiles a person, but what proceeds out of the mouth that is defiling. Matthew 15:11
Rules are helpful but they are not transformative. God comes to encounter us and to change us. Real change happens on our inside and is then displayed outside in how we speak and act.
Jesus discipled the heart first. Jesus knew that when the heart was changed, behavior was changed. Jesus’ top priority was to encounter His people, to demonstrate love, to heal, to tell the truth about God. When people encountered Him in this way, their hearts came alive.
It’s easy to follow rules when it is our heart’s desire to love others well, to demonstrate respect and responsibility for others and our communities. When relationship is our top priority, we restrain our behavior to care for others.
What comes out of our mouth will indicate what’s in our heart. When our heart is good, our behavior and our speech are good. Our inside is reflected on our outside whether we are aware of it or not.
Jesus loves us from the inside out. Transformative love works on our inside and leaks to our outside. Then we will be able to transform the world around us.