"It’s not what goes into your mouth that defiles you; you are defiled by the words that come out of your mouth."
In this verse, Jesus tells us that we should be more concerned about the words that we speak to others, rather than the foods we consume.
It's fascinating how many things humans are willing to eat. If it can be made into bite size pieces, somebody is probably willing to eat it. It's not surprising then that some cultures have declared certain foods taboo or unclean. For example, pork, shrimp, coffee, eggs, and insects are all items that various religious groups do not put on the table. While many Americans do not subscribe to such religious restrictions, almost all of us have particular foods we refuse to eat because we do not like them.
To help us remember that we should be more disgusted by bad words than gross foods, I encourage you to do the following mindfulness exercise today. To get started, buy a food item that you really do not like. Then follow this example with your particular food.
(I really dislike black licorice, so I'll use that example and pretend that you have selected it for this exercise.) Take a piece of black licorice and put it into your hand. Examine it closely. Is it shiny or dull? Next, feel it with your fingers. What is its texture? Is it sticky or smooth? Next, smell the licorice. Does it have a strong smell? Does its odor bother you? Now put it in your mouth and chew it slowly. Consider its flavor. What is it about this particular food that really makes you want to gag?
As you swallow this food, or more likely spit it out, try to etch the memory of its bad taste into your mind. In the future, this is a memory that you should connect to the bad words that you speak. For example, whenever you curse, or tell a bad joke, or tear someone down, recall this disgusting flavor. And recognize that you are gobbling down handfuls of this disgustingness whenever you use words that defile yourself or others.
(New Living Translation; photo credit: Wix media)