It’s a constant challenge. And I think that’s good.
Checking what we say against our hearts.
It means, of course, that we have to take the blob our words form as they trail out of our mouths and scoop them up and put them on the table. A large table. With a clear, bright light above it. And room to spread them out and look for patterns.
And then, when patterns emerge like the whorls of fingerprints or the spatter of gunshot residue, searching the database of our hearts for a match.
If the verbal fingerprints are a cheery pink, with smooth edges, but the heart prints are fiery and broken, what is on the inside clearly doesn’t match.
The words are a cover for what is really happening inside.
That’s what Jesus was saying about the Pharisees who were questioning him about washing his hands. He dissected their case against him by point out the fractures in their own case, the inconsistencies between their hearts and lips.
And then he brought out an authority they held in honor.
Isaiah, he said, mentioned them.
Of course, they thought, in the latter chapters, the healing chapters, the honoring chapters. But no, he said, right there in chapter 29.
‘These people honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
They worship me in vain;
their teachings are but rules taught by men.
Let’s go back to the table for a bit, back to our process of evaluation.
If we are willing to stop adding words and look at what’s there, we may find the mismatch mentioned earlier. However, we may find that the more our hearts resemble Jesus’s, the more our words will match our hearts and his.
When people are serious about following, there is progress.