Jesus is once again tackling the issue of religious rules and the Pharisees fixation on their observance instead of focussing on the attitude of the heart. I wonder how many times this week you and I have done something because we thought we should rather than because we wanted to? I can often find myself falling into this situation all too easily. How many times have I said “I’ve got to go to … ” or, “I’ve got to do this ”or, “I’ve got to do that.” If the person I was on my way to visit heard me speaking like that, they may end up thinking that I didn’t want to be with them and that just wouldn’t be the case at all.
The truth is that when we do something out of love rather than out of compulsion, we respond in a different way. Negative thoughts and attitudes are replaced with positive ones. Our attitude is right. Our desire is right. When these things are right we begin to live our lives in a different way, for, as Jesus tells us, what comes out of our mouth matters as that is a reflection of what is taking place on the inside of our heart; and the state of our heart comes down to what we decide to feed it – what we focus and build our lives upon.
It was the French scientist Anthelme Brillat-Savarin in 1826 who first made the connection between our diet and our behaviour. "Dis-moi ce que tu manges, je te dirai ce que tu es." [Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are]. But as Jesus reminds us, physical food is eaten and then it is discarded. Its benefits are temporary. What truly matters is what we feed our spirits on. We need to feed upon God himself and this will change the way we live fundamentally.
The attitude of the Canaanite woman is attractive to Jesus. She is sincere, passionate, honest, persistent and full of faith. Notice what happens to her during her conversation. She begins by pursuing Jesus yet ends by worshipping Him. She begins with a demand yet ends with a prayer.
She begins by grabbing his attention yet ends on her knees.
Jesus’ words may seem harsh here, but the term ‘dogs’ in this context is ‘Kunaria’ which refers to a household pet and not the scavenging, diseased animals of the street. I see the compassion in his eyes and his smile as he speaks to her and the delight at her typically Greek, quick witted response.
So, what does this teach us? That we need to pursue all that will make for a clean heart.
We need to pursue Jesus. We need to know more fully who He is – the woman experiences a revelation and moves from an academic understanding to a spiritual one. We need to know more fully who He is – the woman moves from accosting attention to worship. We need to know more fully who He is – the woman moves from demand to prayer. Persistence in pursuing God’s influence on our lives is critical to our fruitfulness and prayer is a crucial factor.
When everything seems to go wrong … just P.U.S.H
When the job gets you down … just P.U.S.H.
When people don’t react the way you think they should … just P.U.S.H.
When your money is gone and the bills are due … just P.U.S.H.
When people don’t understand you … just P.U.S.H.
P = Pray, U = Until, S = Something, H = Happens
With the Lord’s Blessing
Rev Dave Clark
Vicar of the Benefice of Upper Wensleydale