Clean the inside of the cup

The Standard August 19, 2021

Far too often it hits the news that some major public figure has fallen into disgrace after a string of alleged victims come forward with shocking accusations. Often the supposed abuser or cheat claims there must be some misunderstanding. In many cases, the families of the one accused stand up to vouch for his or her good character. “She is a wonderful mother” or “He is an attentive, caring son,” they say. Others who have known this public figure in an entirely different context, as an employer or as a superior, might have a different story to tell. Perhaps they describe a toxic workplace.

How can people hide behind an attractive façade for so long or receive repeated glowing reports from journalists when such ugly things lie beneath the surface? The truth is, in varying degrees, all of us let people see what we want them to see. We all are a mixture of good and bad. Most of us are kind and generous to our families and to those we love.

As Jesus says, “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that.” (Luke 6: 32-33) The true test comes when we face those who challenge or oppose us.

You and I are not typically in the national spotlight, but we can get caught in the trap of trying to present the best picture of ourselves to the outside world. Instead, we should allow God to transform our hearts and our minds.  “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” (Proverbs 4:23)

Being around those who are genuine is nice. Being around those who seem phony is uncomfortable. Jesus rebukes the religious leaders for putting on a big show. “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside will be clean. Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.” (Matthew 23:25-28) Let’s clean the inside of our cups this week. We want to please God more than people.

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