Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "Send The Light"1 (Lyrics)
Matthew 23:28 – In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness. (NIV)
I have termites! Or rather, my house does. When I asked a neighbour to check something that needed repair, he gave me the bad news. Treatment is needed to rid my house of these pests.
I live in a park model — a recreational vehicle that is set on the ground and doesn't move from one spot to another. We added a large Arizona room and made changes to improve the exterior. I enjoy my house; when I'm walking home from somewhere in the neighbourhood, I feel blessed to turn the corner and see my comfortable and attractive home. But although the outside looks good, underneath lurks trouble.
In Matthew chapter 23, Jesus warns against hypocrisy. He accuses the teachers of the law and the Pharisees, "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." (verse 27) Seven times in that chapter, He says, "Woe to you …". He calls them blind guides, hypocrites, snakes, and a brood of vipers. He accuses them of making converts without helping them to grow into fruitful believers (verse 15); neglecting justice, mercy, and faithfulness (verse 23); and cleaning the outside while leaving the inside dirty (verse 25).
Matthew 23:26 – First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean. (NIV)
Matthew 23:11-12 — The greatest among you will be your servant. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted. (NIV)
Jesus' lecture to the teachers of the law and the Pharisees was harsh. I can't imagine how it must have felt to stand there and listen to it. But tucked in here and there is good advice for all of us. As we move into a new year, let's examine ourselves in the light of Jesus' message to the Pharisees:
- Are we consistently saturating our hearts and souls with God's Word to keep our hearts and souls clean?
- Do we practice what we preach? Are our lives good examples of our faith?
- Are we helping fellow Christians, especially new ones, to grow in their faith?
- Are we practicing justice, mercy, and faithfulness?
- Do we serve others with a humble heart and attitude?
Prayer: Father, help us to absorb this lesson and to keep our hearts and minds pure and free from hypocrisy. Help us to draw others to You and to be glorious examples that shine for You. Help us to humble ourselves in Your service. Amen.