Scripture: Luke 11:37 While (Jesus) was speaking, a Pharisee invited him to dine with him; so he went in and took his place at the table. 38 The Pharisee was amazed to see that he did not first wash before dinner. 39 Then the Lord said to him, “Now you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. 40 You fools! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also? 41 So give for alms those things that are within; and see, everything will be clean for you.
Observation: Jesus knew the rituals of the Pharisees, yet refused to observe them himself – despite the fact it was a Pharisee who invited Jesus into his home. One could say Jesus was blatantly disrespectful. But Jesus provoked his host for a purpose – to point out his concern for external cleanliness rather than internal cleanliness. To wash one’s hands (external), yet have no compassion in one’s heart (internal) is to miss the point of the ritual in the first place. God the Father is much more concerned with a clean heart than clean hands.
Application: My heart goes out to the Pharisee in this story. Why? Because I know what it is to feel the need to “appear” clean, even if my internal life doesn’t always match up. It’s not a great feeling. There are times when I know I should extend forgiveness, but instead just feel angry. Or when I need to quiet my mind and pray, but instead get distracted by things of this world. Or when I realize patience is required when I want something… right now. I’m not yet who God wants me to be, that’s for sure.
Yet I also trust God is not through with me. I may be a work in progress, but the work continues – and will one day be complete. But not yet. I still have a LONG way to go. How about you? Where is there a disconnect between your external self and your internal self?
Prayer: Lord, it’s true we are a work in progress. Don’t give up on us, dear God. Continue to mold us into the people you envisioned when you conceived us in the first place. And forgive us when our outside and inside don’t match up. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.