Friday, July 3, 2015

Clean hearts or clean hands?

We bought a house back in February. It's a cute little place that suites our family well. It's in an older neighborhood with big trees and each modest little home looks different from it's neighbor. Some are kept, some are not. Ours currently might be considered to be a part of the 'unkept' category. At least on the outside. Weeds are overtaking our yard, the driveway is shot, and big mature trees are in need of some major trimming. But those things are going to have to wait because we're still working on the inside and I'd pick fresh paint colors and pictures hung, over the front yard being immaculately landscaped any day. So the weeds will have to wait.

I care more about the inside of our home than the outside because the inside is where life happens.

The inside is where people grow.

And learn.
And struggle.
And love.
And belong.
And fight.
And forgive.

The outside matters, a little. If the landscaping of my house is SO overgrown that no one can see my front door then that's kind of a problem. And maybe even a distraction. Who will want to come in if they have to wade through a jungle to get there? Only a few may be brave enough to attempt that. The people who REALLY love me. The people who KNOW me. The people who know that once they make it inside they'll find safety and a place where they'll feel at home.

But most of us know the INSIDE matters more. And sometimes we're too busy tending to the outside that we neglect the inside and it gets ugly. It gets selfish, and prideful, and bitter. I struggle with the outside stuff a lot. I struggle with wanting new clothes that make me feel good about myself, and having a nice car that's not dented (because ours is), and making sure my family looks "put together" when we are out in public. But what does all that matter if my heart looks like a dirty, empty, discarded coffee cup? Jesus says it so well in Matthew 23...

"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 inside you are filthy - full of greed and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee! First wash the inside of the cup and the dish, and then the outside will become clean, too." 

We live in a world that values the outside over the inside. A world that values success over integrity and looks over character. But there's always a choice. We always have a choice.

May we clean our hearts before we clean our hands. And may God pour out His grace on us when we don't.