Matthew 23:25-26 – Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean. (NIV)
As I was cleaning windows last week, I realized anew that cleaning only one side would not complete the job. When I first began, I thought that only the outside really needed doing. Yet as I wiped away the film of winter, I was surprised to discover just how many spots and smears were inside! It was not until both inside and out were washed and polished that my job was finished.
Likewise, in our Christian walk, there are two parts to our lives. There is the outside, which we may often think is the most important, as this is the life that is most frequently on view to the public. We thus often take pains to express ourselves in a godly manner, both in speech and action, to the world, which is indeed a good thing! We must not, however, forget or neglect the inner man and our need for a clean heart, for as a man thinks so shall he do.
When the inner man is neglected and only the outer works and ways are maintained, we, like the Pharisees, can quickly succumb to legalism, a set of rules that soon become nothing more than empty traditions and hardline ways that cause us to see ourselves as superior and others as beneath us. This is the opposite of godly love.
When the inner heart, however, is faithfully attended to by means of scripture study and application, prayer, worship, Christian fellowship and accountability, God is able to create in us a clean heart day by day and renew a steadfast spirit within us — a steadfast Spirit of love which permeates all we do and say and think from the inside out, both publicly and privately!
Prayer: Have mercy on us, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out our transgressions. Wash away all our iniquity and cleanse us from our sin. Create in us pure hearts, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within us that our tongues will sing of your righteousness now and forever more. In Christ's name. Amen. (Psalm 51:1-2,10,14)