Cleaning Up

Luke 11:37 – 41 When Jesus had finished speaking, a Pharisee invited him to eat with him; so he went in and reclined at the table. But the Pharisee, noticing that Jesus did not first wash before the meal, was surprised.

Then the Lord said to him, “Now then, you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. You foolish people! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also? But give what is inside the dish to the poor, and everything will be clean for you.

I have tried to teach my children to wash before meals. Still, they sometimes need to be reminded that washing our hands helps to eliminate germs which may make us sick. However, the Pharisees had different reasons for washing their hands.

They made a big show of washing their hands before meals in order to wash away any “unclean” things they may have touched. In their minds, it had more to do with spiritual cleanliness than physical germs. For example, if they had done business with a Gentile, they would consider themselves contaminated, and they needed to wash the Gentile impurities away.

But Jesus didn’t take part in the production. He sat down to eat without washing away the spiritual impurities. Instead, He pointed out to this Pharisee that his focus was on the wrong thing.

The Pharisees were very concerned with appearances. They wanted to look clean on the outside. As a matter of fact, the ceremonial washing was intended only for the high priests, but they had taken this custom upon themselves because they wanted to be a part of the spiritual elite. And they looked down their noses at anyone who didn’t follow suit.

But these people were pious, pompous hypocrites. They were stingy toward the poor, and they didn’t lift a finger to meet the real needs of the people all around them. They were religious. But they were not clean.

Oh, Dear God! I don’t want to be like that. But I have been guilty of playing the religious game. I have been guilty of dressing up and going to church and tying everything in my life up with a pretty bow, so that everyone would think the outer package matched the inner one. But there have been times that my heart was as black as can be. Times when, behind closed doors, I have not shown love to my family or my friends. Times when I have spoken harsh words in the car on the way to church only to get out and paste a smile on my face when I got there.

I’m not saying I should walk into church with a scowl on my face. Rather, I want to strive to make my heart match the pretty image I want others to see. If my heart is clean, I won’t have to paste that smile on. It will be genuine. If my heart is clean, everything will be clean.

Dear Father, Thank You for being genuine. Thank You for being more concerned with our hearts than our appearances. I want my heart to be clean.


2 Responses to Cleaning Up

  1. December 21, 2008 #

    Renae, I long for that purity of heart, too, and look forward to the day when we’ll no longer have to battle our old sin nature.

    Blessings to you, my friend — and Merry Christmas!

  2. December 21, 2008 #

    Merry Christmas to you, too, Cheryl!

    I look forward to that, too.

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