And the Lord said to him, “Now you Pharisees cleanse the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. You fools! Did not he who made the outside make the inside also? …give as alms those things that are within, and behold, everything is clean for you.”
Luke 11: 39-41 (ESV)
As usual, the Pharisees were overly concerned with appearances and status, those qualities the world respects and responds to. They were blinded by their own unbridled egos and grandiose self-images. This self-exaltation drew reverent attention from the masses, so they were continuously deprived of any suggestion or righteous desire to seek truth through self-examination. Consequently, they totally missed the essential point of Jesus’ message and the purpose of his earthly ministry. Thinking themselves God’s earthly select, they instead became slaves to their own self-righteousness.
In effect, God is telling us that as we surrender to his righteous authority and begin to give generously from the spacious richness of an open loving heart, we are cleansed on the inside as well as the out. It’s what’s inside our hearts that really matters. But we often overlook or fail to grasp this powerful truth. Why? Because we believers, through a lack of sincere faith, often devalue or negate what we authentically have to offer others from the rich resources of our heart, from honest encouragement, prayer, material needs, and shelter to sharing in a future full of hope and joy.
We avoid using our precious gifting and the storehouse of riches that God has bestowed on each of us, by keeping them impounded and stagnating. No wonder we so easily become hard-hearted, and judgmental just as the Pharisees became. By existing in this self-imposed spiritually cloistered prison, we hold in contempt the riches God wants us to joyfully share with others. For in the capacity in which we give, are we so blessed?
We can live our lives joyously through an outwardly generous heart, or we can waste our lives turning inward seeking self-gratification. The choice is simple. It is one of God’s eternal principles that the more we give and enrich the lives of others the more we are replenished and blessed ourselves. It is well understood that we will never out-give God. It becomes obvious then that it is much easier to cleanse our whole body; inside and out, through faith and an open loving heart than to continue to fruitlessly struggle and scheme to appear Godly. What a monumental mistake, for we will ultimately be discovered for what we really are, it never fails.
Dear Lord, while this message from Jesus was spoken to the hopelessly deceived Pharisees, we Believers should wake up and take notice of the true status of our own hearts. Help us to live righteously and generously from the inside out. Amen.
A F Fischer