Opportunities for Discernment


One of the scripture passages I'm always trying to find and which never comes to hand when I need it is Matthew 15: 10-20.


And he called the people to him and said to them, "Hear and understand:

[11] not what goes into the mouth defiles a man, but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man." . . .
[17] Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach, and so passes on?
[18] But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a man.
[19] For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander.
[20] These are what defile a man; but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile a man."

What comes out of a person reflect the internal landscape. What I say when I am not prepared to say anything is a suitable indicator of who I am and what I am about and the progress the life of grace has made within me. What I say to the person who is rude to me, to the person who cuts me off in traffic, to the person who aggravates me, all of these are pointers to where Jesus wants to work with me.

It would be a gross overstatement to say that there is nothing I can do about these reactions and statements. There are some things; however, merely suppressing what I would say under the circumstances doesn't really change the landscape. It is a start, because I refuse to cooperate in what would harm another. The reality is, as in all spiritual things, that God accomplishes what He will within me, the best I can give is cooperation and prayer. I must ask that he transform the anger and darkness that is within me and that I become aware of only in these off-instants into true love for my brothers and sisters. I must ask that my consciousness of being part of God's family be more present and that the roughness of the interior landscape be subdued, and brought into proper focus. In short, I pray this sonnet:

Holy Sonnet 14
John Donne

Batter my heart, three-person'd God ; for you
As yet but knock ; breathe, shine, and seek to mend ;
That I may rise, and stand, o'erthrow me, and bend
Your force, to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
I, like an usurp'd town, to another due,
Labour to admit you, but O, to no end.
Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captived, and proves weak or untrue.
Yet dearly I love you, and would be loved fain,
But am betroth'd unto your enemy ;
Divorce me, untie, or break that knot again,
Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.

I cannot know the freedom of God unless God overcomes my own barriers and defenses and brings me to the life He has to me. I can only pray that God break down those things that keep us apart. I can only ask for the gift. But in the asking I know "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. . ." (Matthew 7:7).

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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on February 17, 2006 7:06 AM.

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