Wednesday (February 7):  "Out of the heart come evil thoughts"

Meditation: Where does evil come from and how can we eliminate it from our personal lives? Jesus deals with this issue in response to the religious leaders' concern with ritual defilement (uncleanness) - making oneself unfit to offer acceptable worship and sacrifice to God. The religious leaders were very concerned with avoiding ritual defilement, some no doubt out of reverent fear of God, and others because they wanted to be seen as observant Jews. Jesus points his listeners to the source of true defilement - evil desires which come from inside a person's innermost being. Sin does not just happen from external forces. It first springs from the innermost recesses of our thoughts and intentions, from the secret desires which only the individual mind and heart can conceive.

God gives us his strength to resist sinful thoughts and desires
When Cain became jealous of his brother Abel, God warned him to guard his own heart: "Sin is couching at the door; it's desire is for you, but you must master it" (Genesis 4:7). Cain unfortunately did not take God's warning to heart. He allowed his jealousy to grow into spite and hatred for his brother, and he began to look for an opportunity to eliminate his brother all together. When jealously and other sinful desires come knocking at the door of your heart, how do you respond? Do you entertain them and allow them to overtake you? Fortunately God does not leave us alone in our struggle with hurtful desires and sinful tendencies. He gives us the grace and strength we need to resist and overcome sin when it couches at the door of our heart.

God's word has power to set us free to chose what is good and reject what is wrong
The Lord Jesus wants to set us free from the burden of guilt and from the destructive force of sin and wrong-doing in our personal lives. He wants to purify our hearts and renew our minds so we can freely choose to love and do what is right, good, just, and wise. The Lord Jesus is ready to change and purify our hearts through the grace and help of the Holy Spirit who dwells within us. Like a physician who probes the wound before treating it, God through his Word and Spirit first brings sin into the light that we may recognize it for what it truly is and call upon his mercy and grace for pardon, healing, and restoration. The Spirit of truth is our Counselor and Helper. His power and grace enables us to choose what is good and to reject what is evil. Do you believe in the power of God's love to heal, change, and transform your heart and mind?

"Lord Jesus, fill me with your Holy Spirit and make my heart like yours. Strengthen my heart, mind, and my will that I may freely choose to love what is good and to reject what is evil."


This reflection is courtesy of Don Schwager, whose website is located at: http://www.rc.net/wcc/readings/