Thursday, July 7, 2011

From the Inside Out 2

Yesterday we talked about straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel. Today, I'd like to discuss cleaning up the garbage heap in our lives.

In Matthew 23:25-28, Jesus addresses another of the scribes' and Pharisees' issues: outward glory and inner filth. The Pharisees felt it important to look good in the eyes of others. Meanwhile, their insides flowed with corruption.

My mother-in-law passed away in 2001. She died after a six-month battle with Leukemia, a nasty blood disease. Just like any cancer, it began as a small, corrupt cell. It wasn't detectable at first. Like that gnat we mentioned yesterday. Like the gnat, it became pesky. It grew to what appeared to be a common cold. A small ailment. A cough. Runny nose. And for a short while, it was ignored. Which gave it time to manifest into something larger. Something more dangerous. It became a life-eating cancer. It progressed with fervency. It took over what once was a healthy body.

So often, we like to pretend that everything is okay. Our lives are full of joy, and we love the Lord. We put on a mask. We cover up our sin like we cover up the zits on our face. Minor imperfections go untreated. No one will notice. 

"Do not let your adornment be merely outward - arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel -" 1 Peter 3:3  

Then we find ourselves in the midst of ministry. And while we preach one thing, we live another, praying God will continue to cover those imperfections. Maybe no one will notice our little mess. But life goes on, and that little mess has grown into a pile.

"But the Lord said to Samuel, 'Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance..." 1 Samuel 16:7

Until one day, someone says something that sets off our ticking time bomb, and we explode. As if we didn't know the day was coming. We stand embarrassed, wishing we'd held our tongue. Now we find ourselves exposed. The pile became a heap, which is now scattered all over the place, as we've touched others' lives with our filth. Clean up will be difficult. 

"But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death." James 1:14-15 

Jesus addressed the scribes and the Pharisees regarding their inner mess. He says the following: 

"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence." Matthew 23:25

"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness.
Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness." Matthew 23:27-28

Do we, as Christian women, leaders, mothers, wives, daughters of the King, regularly seek to clean the inside of our cups before offering a taste of our ministry to those around us? Do we look clean, pulled together, and inviting on the outside while we carry filth on the inside? Or do we clean our hearts before the King of Kings so that when we pour out a drink offering our flavor is sweet instead of bitter to those who will taste of it? 

Just something I've been considering in my own life as my husband and I prepare for another step forward in our calling. Is my cup clean? Is my heart right before the Lord? Are my motives His glory or my own? Am I practicing what I preach?

God continues the previous verses with these words of instruction/reminder:

"Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also." Matthew 23:26
Remember: Sin and disease start inward and work their way out, eventually corrupting the outward appearance, as well. It will become evident if we don't repent and ask Jesus to cover it in His healing blood.

"rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God." 1 Peter 3:4
Remember: It's our heart that is important to God, not what our outward appearance portrays.

"For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart." 1 Samuel 16:7

What does God see in you today that He can use for His glory?

Image courtesy of Billy Alexander

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for sharing your thoughts here at My Thoughtful Spot! I love hearing them!