33 “A tree is identified by its fruit. If a tree is good, its fruit will be good. If a tree is bad, its fruit will be bad. 34 You brood of snakes! How could evil men like you speak what is good and right? For whatever is in your heart determines what you say. 35 A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. 36 And I tell you this, you must give an account on judgment day for every idle word you speak. 37 The words you say will either acquit you or condemn you.”
Earlier in this chapter the Pharisees accused Jesus of getting his power from Satan after healing a demon-possessed man.
Jesus responded by challenging the condition of their hearts. This was not the first and certainly not the last time Jesus called out the religious leaders.
25 “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are filthy—full of greed and self-indulgence! 26 You blind Pharisee! First wash the inside of the cup and the dish, and then the outside will become clean, too.
The religious leaders were good at a adhering to religious laws and practices so they felt they were above everyone both morally and spiritually… even Jesus Christ…
However they could not fool Jesus, he was not blind-sighted by their outward practices because he could see the condition of their hearts. The religious leaders missed the mark. Although they knew all the religious laws and practices back to front, they were not willing to surrender their hearts to the Son of Man.
9 “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is? 10 But I, the Lord, search all hearts and examine secret motives. I give all people their due rewards, according to what their actions deserve.”
I’m sure many of us feel we are ‘good’ people because we do this or don’t do that. The problem here is that we fall into the same trap as the religious leaders. You may be doing this or not doing that but where is your heart at?
23 “So if you are presenting a sacrifice at the altar in the Temple and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you,24 leave your sacrifice there at the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God.
Making an offering to the Lord is something that pleases him. However in this instance God is more concerned with us being at peace with one another than the offering. Sometimes we harbour feelings that we are not even aware of. We are holding on to things from the past and our hearts have become hardened in certain places. The reality is that we are not even aware of some of the things we hold in our hearts. The fact that our hearts are described as being ‘deceitful’ and ‘desperately wicked’ calls for a constant heart check.
We cannot do this on our own, therefore we need to constantly surrender our hearts to the Lord.
23 Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. 24 Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.
As individuals we also need to constantly renew our hearts. This ‘inward cleansing’ can be achieved through anchoring ourselves in prayer and the word. These tools keep us in constant communication with God and help in:
- Allowing him to uproot things from our hearts.
- Enabling us to align our hearts with the fruits of salvation, namely, faith, hope, love, mercy and peace.
11 Teach me your ways, O Lord, that I may live according to your truth! Grant me purity of heart, so that I may honour you. (Psalm 86:11)
Written by Bernie x