Friday Devotional: Cleaning the inside to turn trash to treasure
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisses, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of robbery and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean also.” Matthew 23:25-26
I often wonder if the word “dumpster diver” means as much to you as it does to many in my city. The word is commonplace around my family and even in my neighborhood. On the first Monday of each month, the city of Fort Worth basically says that you can put anything on the curb and the trash man will pick it up. The day prior to that Monday, you can bet that there are people driving around neighborhoods with trucks loading other people’s “trash” into their truck.
One week, I saw a truck pulling an 18 foot caged flatbed around my neighborhood picking up whatever they could get their hands on. There is no doubt that one can find a hidden gem on the curb at some point, but I have often wondered whether the time spent digging around is worth the hidden gem.
We recently dove into the world of “dumpster diving” and found what we think are a couple of hidden gems. We found a children’s table that we put under our young kids fort out in the backyard, and we found a couple of outside chairs. We decided to paint the chairs a different color to hid some of the wear and tear that were present on the chairs.
You would be hard pressed to find a group of people that Jesus was harder on than the scribes and pharisees. In Matthew 23, He directly addresses several areas by starting each issue with a “Woe to you.” The scribes and pharisees were consistently making judgments and enforcing strict rules on the people while ignoring their own issues.
Jesus clearly rebukes them because He knows and understands the state of our hearts. No one else has the knowledge and insight into our hearts than the God who created us. The principle that Jesus is communicating to the scribes and pharisees is the problem of the heart is the heart of the matter.
This is still pervasive in many of our lives today. We want to have the appearance that we have everything under control. We walk around answering the question “How are you?” with a quick response of “Great” or “Fine.” We walk around giving the perception that we are pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps and will soon become a better version of ourselves that God will surely love more than the current version.
I think at the root of our heart problem is the knowledge that we are all broken, full of sin and selfishness. We think that if God really knew what was going on in my heart, he wouldn’t be happy with us. The funny thing is, God does know what is going on in our hearts. He does know that we are full of sin and selfishness, and He is not surprised when the state of our heart works it’s way out in our words and our actions.
It’s also what is so amazing about the Gospel. God loves us, despite that sin in our hearts and He made a way for us to be reconciled back to Him through his son Jesus.
When Jesus speaks to the scribes and pharisees, He speaks harshly to them to stop picking up their trash and putting a new coat of paint on it. He urges them to deal with the heart of the matter which is their broken and sin-filled heart.
God doesn’t want us to continue putting lipstick on a pig by pulling ourselves out of the pit. He wants us to humble ourselves, turn towards Christ, repent of the sin found in our hearts that works its way out in our words and actions, and grow in the knowledge and wisdom of Him. Only then does the inside of the cup become clean and only then does the trash become a shining gem.