“There is nothing outside a person that by going into him can defile him, but the things that come out of a person are what defile him” (Mark 7:15, ESV).
Jesus’ disciples were criticized because they did not follow traditions – traditions designed by elitists to help the ignorant mass from furthering angering their God. If only they could get enough of these oblivious people to obey God (John 7:49), they might succeed in ushering in the Messiah and overthrowing the Roman occupation.
These traditions became so valuable that focus was lost. The Law was an afterthought. People were in worse condition than if they’d had no leadership at all. They were scattered sheep (Mt. 9:36). Many hearts drifted away from God (Isa. 29:13; Mt. 15:8).
What about us?
Our societal shepherds focus on personality, physique, organics, wealth-building.
Are these nothing? Of course not, but neither are they primary.
The tendency to get the cart before the horse is ubiquitous, human.
We elevate the mundane and minimize the profound.
We extend the temporary and cut off the eternal.
We sacrifice character to the god of reputation.
Things have their place; fads come and go; stuff will perish.
But the heart endures.
The heart requires more maintenance than the lawn, more effort than exercise, more cleaning than vegetables.
It is worth more than my investments, and will last longer than my retirement.
Get a nice haircut.
Buy an outfit that flatters.
Detail your vehicle.
But before and above all things, focus on what really matters.
Tend the heart.