Judging by the absent list each morning at school, cold and flu season is in full-swing. During this time of year, we tell our kids to cover their mouths, wash their hands, and don’t share drinks with friends. We try to protect ourselves from the germs that can make us sick. Though the people in biblical times did not see a handwashing poster hanging from the wells like we see at water fountains, hand-washing was still relevant. In Matthew 15:1-2, the Pharisees were criticizing Jesus and his disciples for not washing their hands before meals. Now as a mom, you may agree with the Pharisees: who knows what germs were crawling all over their fingers. The Pharisees, however, were not concerned about cleanliness; instead, they were bothered by the fact that Jesus and his disciples were breaking tradition. In verse 11, Jesus explains to the crowd that they should be more concerned about what is coming out of their mouths opposed to what is going in through unwashed hands. He reminds them and us that the things that come out of the mouth are from the heart.
We are so careful about what we allow in our bodies to protect them from illness, but do we guard our hearts with that same protection? In order to find out, we have to examine what comes out of our mouth. Is it gossip? Lies? Negativity? Whining? Complaining? I consider myself to be a pretty positive person, yet when I examine what has been coming out of my mouth lately, I notice a lot of negativity. Complaining about what I don’t have or what I’d like to have, instead of being grateful for the countless blessings in my life. It’s easy to allow the germs of sin and this world to enter our hearts: greed, comparing to others, dissatisfaction, being critical, judging others, and so many more. Those germs affect our hearts, and our hearts affect what we say. So how do we control what comes out of our mouths? We must go to the heart. We must examine the germs in the heart to discover the problem, then confess that our hearts are unclean with the germs of sin, ask the Lord for forgiveness, and ask Him to help keep our hearts clean and pure. We can use His Word like an antibacterial soap to clean the heart and make it shine for Him. Spending time in the Bible daily gives us the “antibacterial” power to recognize and resist the germs poisoning our hearts. We can ask His Spirit to guide us so that our clean hearts can lead to positive words from our mouths. With the help of the Holy Spirit, our mouths can be used to spread Christ’s message and love to others instead of infecting those around us with the germs of sin. We need to protect our hearts as we protect our hands during cold and flu season. Each time we wash, Germ-X, disinfect, and sneeze in our elbows let it serve as reminder to guard our hearts against the germs of evil and sin.