March 10, 2009
Jesus's Description of Digestion
by Charles R. Swindoll
Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary offers this definition of the word digestion: "the process of making food absorbable by dissolving it and breaking it down into simpler chemical compounds that occurs in the living body chiefly through the action of enzymes secreted into the alimentary canal."¹ Medical professionals explain digestion as a complex process designed to break foods down from their ingested form to the most basic building blocks and say that the center for thirst and hunger in the brain is the hypothalamus.
Sounds pretty complicated, doesn't it?
Jesus cut through all the mumbo jumbo and described digestion in these simple terms: "Everything that goes into the mouth passes into the stomach, and is eliminated" (Matthew 15:17).
Anybody can understand that! Whatever you eat goes first into your mouth, where you chew the food and enjoy the taste of it. As you swallow, that food goes into your stomach and is later passed through your upper intestines and then the bowel, before it is eliminated. As you learn more about your body, you discover how important it is to cooperate with what takes place at each part of the process. You chew your food slowly in order to savor its taste and also to liquefy it, and then your stomach mixes in the enzymes to aid the process of further breaking down what you've eaten, and ultimately you receive energy as your body absorbs nutrients while the food passes through your intestines and bowel. Isn't it fascinating how God designed our bodies and provided food as the fuel we need?
After His ultra-simple description of digestion, Jesus turned to the other dimension of life as He talked about not what goes into your mouth but what comes out of it:
"But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders. These are the things which defile the man." (Matthew 15:18-20)
When Jesus used the word heart, He was not talking about the organ in your chest that pumps blood but your inner being, your soul, the secret place where thoughts are stored, motives are formed and hidden, and decisions are made. Think of your heart as an internal well and your mouth as a bucket. Your mouth is the vehicle of communication, drawing its content from whatever originates down in your "heart."
This would be a good time to do some self-examination. Here are a few questions only you can answer. Pause and answer each one honestly.
1. Are you as careful with what comes out of your mouth as you are with what you put into it?
2. Have you allowed yourself to be "defiled" by giving in to one or more of those damaging tendencies deep within your heart?
3. What specific steps do you plan to take to restrain yourself from allowing that to happen again?
Here's an excellent principle to remember. It applies to both your physical and spiritual life: it's never too late to start doing what is right.
1. Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, 11th ed. (Springfield, Mass.: Merriam-Webster's, 2003), see "digestion."
Reprinted by permission. Day by Day, Charles Swindoll, July 2005, Thomas Nelson, inc., Nashville, Tennessee. All rights reserved. Purchase "Day by Day" here.