Matthew 23:25-26, (ESV) "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean."
We recently signed papers on a new home and are moving in the first week of May. It is a well built home with adequate space for our family and ministry needs. However, I must confess, when I first toured this home, I was a little aghast at the electric blue color on the exterior.
It's the kind of blue that made me shudder when I drove-by and caused me to ask, Really? Why did ya' pick this color? Was it on sale or are ya' blind?! When my friends and family see this, they're going to think they are watching a Chevy Chase rerun!
Of course, I immediately started to consider how to cover up this hideous sight, only to realize the "when" is not in the near future. I'm going to live with this heinous blue for at least a year. Honestly, it's okay. I'm not overdone on this; I can patiently wait to change the color of our new home and it's already teaching me a valuable lesson.
This reminds me of our tendency as Christians to make sure outward appearances are in order and look good for others to see. Human inclination wants others to perceive the good in us. We falsely think that if the exterior is attractive, it will mask the ugliness of our interior. Truth is, who we are on the inside is really who we are, versus who we portray on the outside, no matter how appealing our exterior may be.
Hypocrisy is the acid test for the true condition of our heart. If we cannot be an authentic Christian our intention will be to cover up what we don't want others to notice or to pretend to be something we are not. Self preservation is our natural response. When we are genuine, we are willing to be vulnerable enough to admit we don't have it all together and our desire will be to show others God's grace despite our personal weaknesses and flaws.
Jesus encountered a group of people in the New Testament who were fixated on their external and driven by their performance. In Matthew 23:25-26 we read the fifth of seven woes that Jesus indicts upon the Pharisees.
In true Jesus fashion, he targets the one area, though hidden to others is not concealed to Him; the heart. His words puncture the Pharisees puffed up lives. The Messiah's accusations unnerve them. How dare the Christ gouge their flaunted gifts, lance their legalism, penetrate their pride and ruin their pious reputation.
The Pharisees can no longer hide their hypocrisy in the face of Christ. Neither can we. Jesus' use of metaphor indicates that when the inside is "clean" it naturally affects the outside. Until we clean the inside of our lives; our heart, we will lack the fruit of a non-hypocritical life.
Our desire to appear righteous to others is a faulty view that we can somehow climb our way up a spiritual ladder. Recognizing our position in Christ keeps us humble because we acknowledge there is absolutely nothing we can "do" to look good or gain His favor.
The motive behind each choice makes all the difference with the spiritual temperature of our inner being. God knows our intentions. We must purge our tendency to look good externally and strive to make our heart right, which in turn, will produce a heart with pure intentions. A pure heart loves God and His Word out of devotion not duty; out of love not just a list; out of a relationship not merely abiding by rules; out of internal purity not merely external piety.
Our motives change when we are challenged to do things as a result of what Christ has done for us. The natural overflow of our heart is the love of Christ that we cannot contain and are compelled to share. This love penetrates the poison in our heart and motivates us to live genuine Christian lives. This transformation enables us to live a life beyond hypocrisy.
Through a dark season of grief, the Holy Spirit convicted me several years ago regarding the hypocrisy in my heart. It's genuineness was in question. Like the Pharisees, Jesus pinpointed several specific areas I needed His help with: pride, legalism, comparison and being judgmental were just a few. While I still must guard my heart against these tendencies, I can truthfully say, God radically changed my heart on many levels. Honestly, it's easier to live in freedom and authenticity than trying to pretend.
Are you living real in a cover-up world?
Ask God to help you work through the areas you tend to cover up. Pray for the maturity to be transparent with yourself, with God and with others.
What parts of your life mirror those of the Pharisees? What are your biggest weaknesses?
What words would Jesus use to rebuke you?
Are you willing to share what God has done and is doing in and through your life? Do you recognize how powerful your testimony can witness to another?
Heart Changing Word:
Psalm 86:11 (NIV 1984) "Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name."
Matthew 23:27-28 "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men's bones and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness."
Luke 14:11 "For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."
Ephesians 2:8-10 "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."
Colossians 3:23 "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for Lord, not for men . . . It is the Lord Christ you are serving."
Copyright 2012 by Hester Christensen. All rights reserved.