I live in the south and soul food is a menu of good tasting food that is really not very healthy. For example, I would call Bacon, Biscuits, Gravy & Grits breakfast soul food. Other “soul food” selections might be mashed potatoes, gravy, collard greens, pork chops and fried squash. I believe that lots of “soul food” is fried or cooked with lots of butter! I’m not an expert by any means, but I do enjoy good food. I admit that I have a tough time with boundaries on portions of good soul food.
The Jews had a strict diet. They couldn’t eat just any food. They also couldn’t eat certain foods in combination with other foods. Jesus was asked by the Pharisees and teachers of the law why His disciples didn’t follow their Jewish traditions when it came to ceremonial washing and eating. Jesus called out their hypocrisy with a passage from Isaiah. Check this out…
‘These people honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
7 Their worship is a farce,
for they teach man-made ideas as commands from God.’ (Mark 7:6-7 Isaiah 29:13 NLT)
He then went further in explanation to His disciples. He talked about purity of our heart. The law implied that behavior modification was all that was necessary to follow the Lord. Jesus makes it clear that your behavior simply reveals what is going on inside the heart. Check this out…
14 Then Jesus called to the crowd to come and hear. “All of you listen,” he said, “and try to understand. 15 It’s not what goes into your body that defiles you; you are defiled by what comes from your heart.”
19 Food doesn’t go into your heart, but only passes through the stomach and then goes into the sewer.” (By saying this, he declared that every kind of food is acceptable in God’s eyes.)
20 And then he added, “It is what comes from inside that defiles you. 21 For from within, out of a person’s heart, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, 22 adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, lustful desires, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness. 23 All these vile things come from within; they are what defile you.” (Mark 7:14, 19-23 NLT)
I believe that Jesus was teaching something profound that we still struggle with today. We make a judgement upon people by their behavior. I do believe that behavior often reveals what’s going on inside the heart. Jesus was teaching that we need to feed our soul from the Word of God. I believe that if we spend our time working on our heart, our habits and activities will follow the heart. Our behavior is a symptom of a diseased heart. The Lord wants to change us from the inside out and it begins in my heart. The Word of God is food for my soul – “soul food”, if you will. I want to make sure that I’m digesting the Word of God every day before I eat any physical food. This “soul food” does have eternal implications.