Proverbs 23:7 – They are always thinking about how much it costs. "Eat and drink," they say, but they don't mean it. (NLT)
"It's what's on the inside that counts." How many times have I heard that saying and even uttered it myself? It's normally reserved for those who don't measure up to society's definition of beautiful, so we comfort people by telling them to keep their inside pretty. Actually, it's not bad advice.
I learned the importance of the inside scenario during my first years at high school. My parents placed me in a private school for "preppies". I was immediately uncomfortable, since it was the mid-seventies, and I was into the hippie scene. I chose to challenge the rule that annoyed me most: the hair-length rule. After two years of misery — theirs and mine — my parents transferred me to public school.
The experience was not without a few lessons, however, one of which was how unlikely it is that changing the outside of a person will affect the inside. I was like the little boy whose mother told him to sit down, and he thought, "I may be sitting down on the outside, but I'm standing up on the inside."
One translation of today's verse begins, "For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he." (KJV) The person referred to is stingy and miserly, and even though he might issue a meal invitation, the friendship is phony. He invites because there's something in it for him. Jesus later said, "It's not what goes into your mouth that defiles you; you are defiled by the words that come out of your mouth." (Matthew 15:11 NLT) What's inside erupts in actions and attitudes and is also corralled in our thoughts.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, help us to realize that it's what's on the inside that's most important. While rules and laws may force us to obey parents, employers, and authorities, enable us to understand that it's better to clean up our insides so that the obedience will flow from the right motives. Amen.