Tuesday, August 21, 2018


“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness” -Matt. 23:27 Grace. Legalism. Freedom. Obedience. Peace. Law. These are all words that stir us up and touch our souls. We’re always trying to strike the balance between rules and grace. We love the freedom of grace but lean on the structure of rules. Finding the balance isn’t easy. And if we’re not careful, we grow more concerned about our outside than our inside. Jesus taught that our “outside needs to match our inside.” The problem rears it’s ugly head when we hold to a conviction on the one hand but act contrary to the conviction on the other. We do it all the time. Example: driving. “Yes,” we might say, “Everyone should obey traffic rules and drive safely.” Yet, most people have the “drive five miles over the speed limit” philosophy, and law enforcement seems to honor that rule. But, legally speaking, it’s breaking the law. It’s an action inconsistent with our conviction. That was the meaning of Jesus’ illustration of the whitewashed tomb. There was nothing wrong with people washing the tombs. Perhaps it was a way for relatives to honor family who had passed away. What it wasn’t was a way for the person buried there to honor themselves. They were dead. If they were alive, they would be far away from the cemetery doing what alive people do: living life. That was the point of Jesus: keep your outside clean but keep your heart clean as well. That was (and still is) the problem with any one holding a conviction, namely professing to be a follower of Jesus Christ. Does my life match my heart? Does the way I act match what I believe? Not all Pharisees were “whitewashed tombs.” Some had it right and they lived out what they professed. I don’t have to wear a ring to be Jeanie’s husband. But I want to wear it to show my commitment to her. I’m so honored to be her husband. Some women have huge rings but despise their husbands. So don’t wear the ring? No. Love your husband. Validate the ring. Do we have to go to church to be a Christian? No. But, of course, we want to go to church because we’re Christian. We need what church provides. And we contribute to that provision. Too often we view church as a place for us to be entertained. We place undue focus on Sunday morning and the sermon. “I sort of liked the church, but the sermon was long,” I heard someone say. It’s not about whether we like church, it’s about what we’re contributing to it. It’s about our inside matching our outside. It’s about maintaining the integrity of my heart by keeping my inside and my outside clean. And that is hard work! It requires maintenance. It means we have to be self-aware enough to address our problems. Example: I am inclined to act snooty toward a particular person at work. Step #1: recognize that I’m snooty. And not being nice is not an option because we’re to love as Christ loves. Step #2: I explore the “why.” I am simply jealous. The Lord reveals that truth. But He provides enough for us all. Step #3: I take my “snootiness” to the Lord. I confess my problem to Him (1 John 1:9) and He cleanses my heart. Now my heart matches my head. Step #4: I’m nice to him at work. But recognize that he hasn’t changed at all. I humble myself and love him. White-washed outside matches white-washed inside. Of course, this side of heaven, I’ll never be completely white. That maintenance process will be constant. And that’s okay. So, walk in His grace this week. Walk in the freedom of Christ. But walk in the "freedom of obedience" as well. Remain prayerful and aware. Keep your heart and life matching. Let the Lord have His way. May our inside… …match our outside. By Eric Joseph Staples © www.lifeaid101.com