“If we fail to keep our hearts clean, the rest of our lives will stagnate and become dirty.” ~ Joshua Harris, I Kissed Dating Goodbye
Normal people do not like to be dirty. We will work hard and become all sweaty and dirty, but the first chance we get we will hop in the shower to wash all the grime away. Most of us find dirt and stench repulsive. That is why we have such a strong desire to be clean; we don’t want to be repulsive to other people. I believe all of us would admit that we go to great lengths to be clean, to smell nice, and be presentable to the public.
While we may take great pains to stay clean on the outside, many of us live in pig pens spiritually. People may be able to praise us for our wonderful good looks, the way we smell, the amazing talents that we have, or the nice things we do for others, but they have no idea about the thoughts and desires lurking in our hearts. The result is that these people who lavish us with praise have no idea what we do when no one else is around. The truth is that we can hide a terribly sinful life in a perfectly clean body.
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people's bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness” (Matthew 23:27-28; ESV).
Jesus went after the Pharisees because their focus was on a religious appearance that would be praised by men, rather than pursuing the desires of God. The Jewish religious leaders of Jesus’ day were consumed with their appearance, tedious rituals, and public acts of righteousness. That led to them ignoring the poor, the outcast, and God. The Pharisees may have had a great religious appearance, but their hearts told a different story.
Jesus taught that whatever is in our hearts will eventually overflow into our lives. That means we have to start putting into our hearts things which are positive, things that will make us attractive to God. The apostle Paul said it this way:
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you (Philippians 4:8-9; ESV).
If we want to look good on the inside as well as the outside we need to put into our lives things that are good and will benefit the new heart God has given us in Christ Jesus. Bible study (personal study as well as sitting under good Bible teachers), prayer, and worship must all be a part of our lives. Our entertainment must be wholesome and uplifting. We must learn to throw out evil thoughts and think about what is righteous.
Not only do we have to take control of what comes into our minds and our hearts, but we also need to take control of what comes out. We cannot just play church, but we must be ready to step up and put our hearts into action. The love we have for God should be seen in the way we live our lives. The trust we have for Jesus needs to be seen in our obedience to His teachings.
My plea today is simple: Don't be a whitewashed tomb, but be a beautiful temple.