The Adulterous Heart

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said to the crowds, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matthew 5: 27, 28) Here Jesus is quoting from Exodus 20: 14, the 7th of The 10 Commandments, with an emphasis on looking lustfully with the eyes as he defines the essence of an adulterous heart.

Then, Jesus continues with the harsh analogy of gouging out your right eye if it causes you to sin, for it would be better to lose one part of the body than to have your whole person thrown into hell. In other words, He challenges His hearers to consider the ramifications of one bad choice (looking lustfully) which can lead to much larger consequences (an adulterous heart).

Today the heart is greatly tempted by viewing pornography, the place where lust is most dramatically exploited, encouraged, and embodied for this generation. The pornography industry in America today is estimated to exceed $10 Billion/year, and is larger than the NFL, NBA, and Major League Baseball combined. With an estimated 420 million pages of pornography available online, 13,000 new porn videos released annually, and 900 million videos available for sale or rent, one can’t help but be concerned about how this is shaping our gender and sexual identities, as well as our relationships.

Amazingly, the pornography industry is legal and oft-promoted as socially acceptable, as it has become a part of today’s cultural and economic mainstream. But, it is destroying hearts, homes, and relationships 24/7 all around the globe. Now considered one of the fastest growing addictions among young, impressionable adolescent males, as well as a large percentage of men (especially those under the age of 30 who grew up with ease of accessibility to the internet), looking lustfully has become a way of life. Jesus’ words ring true today, and it should break our hearts and realign our prayers for all who struggle with and ultimately succumb to this temptation.

But, the lustful look and the adulterous heart isn’t simply a man’s issue. Women also struggle with their own lustful temptations (and many accompany their male counterparts in the world of pornography). Adultery has no distinct gender or age boundaries, or other lines of demarcation. The need for purity of heart exists for all. So, how will you pray for those who wrestle with sexual temptation? How will you come alongside them with compassionate empathy and support? And, most importantly, how will you maintain your own purity of heart?

Previous to His statements about the adulterous heart, Jesus also said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God” (Matthew 5: 8). May the eyes of our hearts search earnestly for God and focus our attention on all that honors and pleases Him.

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Steve Macchia

Founder & President

The Rev. Dr. Stephen A. Macchia is founder and president of Leadership Transformations, Inc. (LTI), a ministry serving the spiritual formation, discernment, and renewal of leaders and learners since 2003. For more than 20 years he has been the Director of the Pierce Center for Disciple-Building at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, where he also serves as an adjunct faculty member in the Doctor of Ministry Program. From 1989-2003 he was the president of Vision New England, the largest regional church renewal association in the country. Earlier in his ministry life, Steve was a member of the pastoral staff of Grace Chapel in Lexington, Massachusetts for 11 years. He is the author or co-author of 17 books, including The Discerning Life (Zondervan Reflective), and Crafting a Rule of Life, Becoming A Healthy Church (LTI), and Broken and Whole (IVP).  He and his wife Ruth live in the Boston (MA) area and are the proud parents of two married children and grandparents to three adorable grandchildren. Steve’s personal website is www.SteveMacchia.com.

My soul comes alive singing the great hymns of the church and enjoying the beauty of God’s creation. I’m in awe of God for fulfilling the dream for LTI that he birthed in my heart, for the team he has assembled, and the transformational impact experienced in the leaders and teams we serve.

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Mitzi Mak

Selah-West Faculty

Mitzi started her professional life as a high school social studies teacher. She and her husband Jerry then served cross-culturally for ten+ years, living abroad first in India and then Kurdistan, N. Iraq. In addition to being a Spiritual Director, she now serves as a Formation and Care pastor in her local church in Houston, TX. She has graduated from LTI’s Selah Spiritual Direction training as well as LTI’s Emmaus Formational Leadership Program.

Mitzi enjoys engaging conversation, reading fiction, doing jigsaw/crossword puzzles, ocean gazing and exploring the world with Jerry through food and travel.

God has two main callings in Mitzi’s life: to care for those who care for others and to be a guide in helping others have a healthy relationship with the Trinity – recognizing God’s loving presence and activity in their lives and how to faithfully respond.

Selah was a transformative experience for me – allowing the contemplative within to emerge and to beautifully co-exist with my extraverted personality.