Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen and understand. 11 What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.” Then the disciples came to him and asked, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this?” He replied, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots. 14 Leave them; they are blind guides. If the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.” Peter said, “Explain the parable to us.” 16 “Are you still so dull?” Jesus asked them. 17 “Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? 18 But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. 20 These are what defile a person; but eating with unwashed hands does not defile them.”
Dear God, it takes a special kind of humility to be the one to ask what everyone else is thinking but too scared to say. Notice how the NIV puts it. Peter asks the question, but Jesus tells “them.” They were all thinking it. It was just probably silently, not wanting to appear foolish.
That reminds me of a Mark Twain quote that I’ve always gravitated towards: “Better to remain silent and appear foolish than open your mouth and remove all doubt.” Now, I still think this is right when it comes to trying to show people how smart you are, but it’s okay to appear foolish when it comes to humbly asking questions and admitting I don’t know.
Peter blew into a lot of situations that made him look foolish, that’s true. But that part of his personality also led him into being willing to ask the potentially embarrassing question. He wanted to know and he thought it was foolish to be unsure. It might cost him some pride, but, to him, it was worth it.
Father, I know I need to let my ego go more. I’m in a couple of roles in my life now where I don’t want to appear foolish. But it’s also important that I really understand what’s going on. I’m thinking about a board on which I currently serve. I don’t need the impetuous part of Peter’s character in the boardroom, but I need his humility and his desire to be the best he can be. Help me to get there so that you can use me as much as possible.
In Jesus’ name I pray,