Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Clean the Inside First

Matthew 23:26

First clean the inside of the cup and dish,

profileOutward looks are usually the first thing that attracts people. If a person has a rugged jaw or a sweet smile with sparkling eyes – we are drawn to them. I know one of the first things that drew me to my than future wife was her beautiful red hair.

It is only natural to be drawn to someone that is pleasant looking – even handsome or beautiful. Having said that I must share one of my grandmother’s favorite sayings – beauty is only skin deep. A person can have all the right curves or muscles – a great smile and hair – even have the whole package that the world calls beautiful or handsome – and yet when we get to know them we see that inside they have issues.

I remember owning a 1972 Ford Mustang and trying to keep the outside shiny and clean. I washed it most every day – especially this time of the year when pollen would turn my red Mustang a mustard color in a few hours. I waxed it weekly it seemed. If you sat on the hood you would slide off because I had the rear raised a little and with the heavy wax job – it was hard to sit anything on the hood without it sliding off!

The point is – this was a boss car – from the outside. It had all the looks. The interior of the car was also pretty sweet. I installed a new sound system with speakers everywhere. I had the latest CB (citizen band radio) as well – my handle was the Annapolis Wolfman. It was a boss car for sure.

But let me make another point. In those days cars would rust from the inside out. What one-day was a shiny read car without an apparent flaw – began to develop rust marks along the wheel wells. From the years of snow and salt – the rust developed and began to eat away this boss car from the inside out. I had a choice to make. Sell the car before the ugly got too bad or fix it. I decided to fix it and began the task of digging out the rust and repairing it.

Today’s passage are words of Jesus as He tries to encourage the Pharisees to clean up their insides (they were so focused on the outward and didn’t pay attention to the inward). Here is today’s passage in partial context. Matthew 23:23–28 – 23 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. 24 You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel. 25 “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. 26 Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean. 27 “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 the bones of the dead and everything unclean.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.

Let me encourage us today to work on the inside of us – on our heart – our attitude. We can have it all together outwardly – but if the heart and attitude are not right with God – the outward is merely window dressing. Window dressing works for a little while – but if you ever dated or were married to someone with looks but had a bad attitude or personality – you know beauty or handsomeness only goes so far.

I’m blessed because as beautiful as my wife is outwardly – she is even more beautiful on the inside. If you would have asked me in my 20’s which was most important I would have probably said looks (so sad – so shallow). But 34 years later – I would definitely say the inside is more important than the outside. Are we working on our insides – on our heart and attitude? Are we striving to be more like Jesus on the inside so that Jesus shines through for all to see?  Work on the inside first – because that is what really counts!

Here is a quote I found – again – the other day. A woman’s heart should be so hidden in Christ, that a man should have to seek Him first to find her.

Just something to think about today as you go on your way.

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May 14, 2014 - Posted by | Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Marriage, Personal, Theology | , , , , ,

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