What Is the Motivation?
Matthew 23:25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean.
Jesus was very clear about how he viewed the scribes and the Pharisees. They were far too concerned with their outward appearance and the way in which they were treated by others. Sadly they didn’t see that what was on the inside really affected what was on the outside.
Jesus didn’t just say that they had a few impurities on the inside, he hinted that they were FULL of greed and self-indulgence. They were filled to overflowing with their own selfishness and this was revealed on the outside, no matter how hard they tried to look clean! What they failed to understand was that the outside would be clean, if the inside were clean. External purity is not true holiness because true holiness can only come from a clean heart. Behaviors are controlled by internal motivations.
It seems that so often we are worried about the externals. We want to be sure that we present a positive appearance but simply trying to keep up appearances can be tiring! What we do needs to come from the heart. The external must be controlled by the internal.
I remember as a teenager that there was a lot of peer pressure to carry our Bibles at school. It was one of those topics of discussion in Youth Group — who would be strong enough to publicly carry their Bible through the halls? In reality — was that the best witness? In some ways it’s not that hard to carry a book, but it can be much harder to live out our love for God on a day to day basis with our family and friends. The external is not important if it does not flow from the internal.
The scribes and Pharisees were filled with greed and self-indulgence. This motivated them and the result was selfishness on a scale that would crucify the Messiah. The very one who could provide the heart cleansing which they so desperately needed was the one they were destroying.
The life empowered by the presence of the Holy Spirit begins with cleansing within. This is God’s plan and it’s why he sent his son. We await with anticipation the joy of transformation because of the presence of a tiny baby. He reaches down, touches our hearts and begins a work that cleanses from the inside out. When his work is done in us, he is reflected through us. The external we want the world to see is Christ. This is our motivation.
Lord, thank you that you are patient with us. Amen.
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