My sons bring me great joy on a daily basis, but there is one consistent thorn in my side when it comes to them. They can be messy. After their daily chores, I’ve had occasions when I’ve gone to inspect their room, and it looks pretty good on the outside. However, after opening the closet, I’ve discovered chaos. At times, it has seemed that everything that they had been instructed them to clean up had been carelessly throw into the closet, under the bed, and into the drawers. Even their beds that had appeared to be made up, under closer examination had visible lumps, letting me know that only the top comforter was put on correctly. Sometimes, our spiritual lives can be just like this.
Many times, we can lose focus if we’re not careful. We may start off with good intentions, but lose sight of the big picture. Jesus quotes the prophet Isaiah when he says to the scribes and Pharisees, “This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouths, and honorouth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men” (Matthew 15:8). Clearly, you can do the right thing with the wrong motives, and it is useless before God. He will not accept an insincere heart, regardless of how many good deeds we perform, how many scriptures we know or church services we attend.
Over the years I’ve had opportunities to meet fellow authors, musicians, and singers. There have been too many times that I’ve been blessed by an author’s novel or blessed by a singer’s song—only to talk to them and find them to be rude, impatient, or insincere with others. This is hypocrisy. We represent Christ, and regardless of how we may feel, we have to uphold a standard and that standard is our instruction in the Bible. We are to love, to show patience and kindness towards one another, whether we are having a good day or not. II Corinthians 3:2 says, “Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of men.” To quote my pastor, “Somebody is watching you—whether you realize it or not.”
Jesus addresses the Pharisees and their ability to follow the details of the law but omit “the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith.” He tells them that they “strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel,” and says, “for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess” (Matthew 23: 24-25). Jesus continues, “Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within are full of hypocrisy and iniquity” (Matthew 23:28).
This will surely seem too simple and elementary for many, but it is so basic that I’m afraid that Satan deceives many into thinking they’re righteous when they’re far from it. I get angry thinking about how many people do things in the name of ministry, but they’re sincere desire is to take advantage of God’s people. Wealth, power, and prestige can be wonderful blessings and by-products from abiding in the vine of Jesus Christ. However, sincere motives and a pure, clean heart before God should always be the foundation from which we operate.
How do we cleanse ourselves from the inside out? It’s very simple. We have to believe that the Lord Jesus Christ is our savior. We must read the Word and obey it. We must live surrendered lives before Him. We must abide in the vine. John 15:3 says, “Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.” Apart from the vine, there is no real life, no real power, no real peace, and yes, there is no real way to be cleansed.
I am not all that He would have for me to be, but I am so grateful that through relationship with Him, He shows me myself. I know what Jeremiah meant in Lamentations by saying that His mercies are new every morning. Everyday when I wake up, I have another chance to live for Him, glorify Him, and thank Him for his cleansing and forgiving power.
If you haven’t been real with Him, I pray that you will drop any selfish motives or cares that would separate you from Him. The Word says that he already knows our hearts, so just ask Him to forgive you and surrender your all to Him today. He loves you, and He cares.
Blessings and Love,
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