… that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man. (Matthew 15:11b)
Jesus made this statement following a pharisaical criticism of His disciples for not washing their hands before eating (v. 2). Of course our mothers would probably all agree with the Pharisees on this matter, but personal hygiene was not the issue, and Jesus quickly cut to the heart of the matter. The Creator in explaining His perfect design simply pointed out that what is consumed by the mouth is eliminated through normal biological functions. However, the greater issue is a matter of heart content. It is “those things which proceed out of the mouth [that] come forth from the heart” and it is “they [that] defile the man” (v. 18).
Those things that are in the heart are not consumed through the mouth, but rather through the eyes and ears – what we see and what we hear. An old children’s chorus said, “Be careful little eyes what you see” and “Be careful little ears what you hear.” In his letter to the Romans Paul wrote, “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Romans 12:2). The third verse of that children’s chorus said, “Be careful little mouth what you speak.” James said that man is able to tame every sort of wild beast, “But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God” (James 3:7-8).
It is the heart content that issues forth from the mouth. “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: These are the things which defile a man” (vv. 19-20a). Therefore, in order to keep the heart content pure, “whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things” (Philippians 4:8). If we are filling our heart with good things, then good things will “proceed out of the mouth.”