Before I went to Springfield last weekend I quickly washed my laundry, packed what I wanted to take, and then folded but neglected to put away what I wasn’t taking. While I was gone my mom kindly “cleaned” my room so that my aunt could stay in it. When I got home my room looked great—my bed was made, there was nothing on my floor, everything was dusted, my dresser was organized, my room just looked very nicely cleaned.
As I opened my closet door I soon found that my room was what not quite what it seemed to be. My laundry had been thrown into a hamper and into my closet, my jewelry had been thrown in a drawer, and any papers or receipts had been thrown in a basket with a lid. My room appeared to be clean on the surface but on closer inspection it was far from being truly clean.
As I was searching for things that had gone missing after my room was “cleaned” I couldn’t help but thing about the Pharisees and the time Jesus called them “whitewashed tombs”. In Matthew 23:25 Jesus said “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but you are filthy—full of greed and self indulgence!” In verses 27 and 28 He said “What sorrows awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs—beautiful on the outside but filled on the inside with dead people’s bones and all sorts of impurity. Outwardly you look like righteous people, but inwardly your hearts are filled with hypocrisy and lawlessness. “
The Pharisees too were giving a false impression; they too were not quite what they seemed to be. They loved to impose rules on people and make themselves look perfect and righteous, but their righteousness went no further than the surface. Inside they were full of impurities for they allowed serving God to become nothing more than a list of rules, rather than a desire to please and glorify Him. They wanted to be thought of highly but they didn’t want to do anything more than was required to have the appearance of purity.
Everything you do or say first comes from within your heart. Jesus said “But the words you speak come from the heart—that’s what defiles you. For from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, all sexual immorality, theft, lying, and slander.” (Matthew 15:18, 19). Being truly righteous is not just about what you do or don’t do outwardly—it is really about the condition of your heart.
Fortunately, just as I am able to clean up after the cleaning that my mom gave my room, Jesus is more than able to cleanse you from within. As He cleanses you from within you will be clean outwardly too.
“First wash the inside of the cup and the dish, and the outside will become clean too.” Matthew 23:26