Matthew 23:25 (Jesus said) “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup, so that the outside also may become clean. 27 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which on the outside look beautiful, but inside they are full of the bones of the dead and of all kinds of filth. 28 So you also on the outside look righteous to others, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.”

Here again is Jesus at his charming best (kidding). The Pharisees and scribes had been trying to discredit Jesus for some time. They had harassed him, challenged him, attempted to trick him into saying and doing the wrong things. This passage suggests that they’d gotten on Jesus’ last nerve, so he let loose a barrage of critical comments.

Jesus accused the scribes and Pharisees of many things which might be summed up in one word: hypocrite. In other words these persons held themselves out as “righteous” but were not what they appeared to be. They looked fine on the outside, but on the inside they were full of “all kinds of filth”. They followed the letter of the law, but their hearts were cold and indifferent toward others.

In some ways I identify with the scribes and Pharisees. Part of my job as a pastor is to preach and teach regarding the will and ways of God – all the while knowing I personally fall short of those expectations every day. I’m sure some of you can relate. However, unlike the Pharisees I do not hold myself out as righteous and above reproach. I’m very much a work in progress and don’t mind admitting that.

That said, I continue to pray that the Lord would continue doing a work in me. I may never reach perfect alignment between inside and outside, but I pray those realities get closer together with each passing day. Lord, let it be so. Amen.


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