Too many times we Christians, just like the Pharisees, clean up well on the outside, but we forget that God doesn't just see our external appearance. He sees straight into our hearts. We do the same things in our churches. We worry about whether the choir should wear robes, where the flowers should go for the Sunday worship service, making sure that the paraments are the correct color, and how many attended. Some may worry that the minister needs a haircut!
The Lord did indeed see the lovely new robes the choir had on, but He also could tell that they were just singing words and notes...their hearts were just not in it. He saw the beautiful flowers in front of the pulpit, but He also knew they were not to honor Him...they were to honor humans. He saw how many people were in church on Sunday, but He also saw that the elders and deacons were far more concerned about numbers than they were about hurting hearts. And the Lord did even agree with the ladies in the third pew from the back that the minister needed a haircut, but He also noticed that instead of preparing their hearts to worship Him, they were far too busy criticizing and gossiping.
We read our Bibles and we say, "Look at those awful Pharisees! Jesus sure had them pegged right! They really were a bunch of hypocrites!" Straining at a gnat and swallowing a camel indeed!!! We too seem to give the Lord a lot of lip service, but our hearts are far from Him.
In 1 Samuel chapter 16, the Lord tells Samuel, "Do not consider his appearance or his height for I have already rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart." Then in chapter 53 of Isaiah we learn that the Messiah "had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him."
Jesus called the Pharisees hypocrites six times in this chapter in Matthew. Why was He so concerned about them? My Quest Bible explains it very well. "These religious leaders had exchanged the holy for the hollow. They were concerned about outward appearance not substance. They pretended to obey God's Word but consistently violated the spirit of the law. Jesus desires genuine spiritual commitment."
I know that I need to take the plank out of my own eye before I attempt to extract a splinter from yours. I know that I need to stop complaining about the small, inconsequential things at church. If my church were perfect they would never have accepted me to be a member! The inside of my cup and dish needs a lot of maintenance. I need some of that new and improved dishwashing liquid. Could you use a little better grooming on the inside too? Well, Lent is the perfect time to take your heart to the repair shop...your prayer room!
© Gayle M. Wheat All Rights Reserved