Jim Wilson is the retired director of Community Christian Ministries in Moscow, Idaho. He will be posting regularly, so check back in soon!

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Clean on the Inside

"If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' love those who love them." (Luke 6:32)

This kind of love is not a distinctively Christian trait. In fact, Jesus said that "even 'sinners' love those who love them." Many Christians love those who love them or love lovely people and think that they are showing Christian love by doing this, when, in fact, they are loving in a humanistic fashion. In other words, they love the same way every other human being loves.

There is a distinct love that only Christians have. They have it because they received it when it was given to them by the Lord.

"But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Rom. 5:8) His love for us had nothing to do with our loveliness or our love for Him. It had to do with His nature and our need. When we share this love with others, it should have nothing to do with others' love for us or with their loveliness. Jesus said, "But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back." (Luke 6:35a)

If you are not loving as Christ loved, you are either a disobedient Christian or you are not a Christian.

"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 also 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 dead men's bones 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." (Matt. 23:25-28)

One of the first things I notice in this paragraph is that Jesus said this to the hypocrites, not about them. For many decades years (and it probably has been going on for hundreds of years), I have heard people talk about the hypocrites, saying that churches were full of hypocrites and that is why they do not go to church. Jesus said earlier in Matthew, "The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses' seat, so practice and observe whatever they tell you, but not what they do; for they preach but do not practice." There is no virtue in avoiding church because of hypocrites.

Second, a hypocrite is someone who is pretending to be cleaner on the outside than he is on the inside. He spends more effort in appearing clean than he does in being clean. Most people do this. Hypocrites are everywhere. Churches may be full of them, but so are prisons, and so are homes. Very few people want to be known as they are on the inside. Wicked people do not want to be known as wicked. There are a few who say, "At least I'm not a hypocrite." What they are saying is, "I'm dirty on the inside and the outside." True, they are not hypocrites, but they are no cleaner than the hypocrites. Jesus said that the way to avoid hypocrisy is to “...first clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean."

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