My family and I took much of the day yesterday to clean the inside of our big garage. The first step of any good garage cleaning project is to get everything out of the garage. Then we took great care in sweeping it out. We used a shop vac on the walls and all of the benches. But then we took a power washer and cleaned all of the floors. It was drastically needed because it was so dirty.
As we were engaged in this cleaning process, I thought of the words of Jesus to the religious leaders. At one point in His ministry, He is speaking to the religious activities that people do that makes them appear to be spiritual. And Jesus says that all they are doing is taking care of the outside when in fact what they need is to clean the inside. Specifically, he says:
"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Fro you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people's bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness." (Matthew 23:25-28)
I could not help to think that often times, religious activities in my life are more like power-washing the outside of the garage than they are taking everything out and cleaning the inside. That's the difference between religious activities and the gospel. The gospel begins with God being holy and me not. It says that I must repent of my sins. That's the equivalent to taking things out of the garage and taking them before the Lord. It is washing the inside of the tomb instead of just making the outside look pretty.
What Jesus was saying is that the inside is what matters. It is the inside that He cares about. He doesn't care that you have perfect attendance at church, if the inside of your heart is filled with dead men's bones. He doesn't care that you give lots of money to the church, if you do it for selfish motives. He doesn't even care that you can memorize large portions of the Bible if you never allow them to impact the way in which you live. The gospel begins in the heart. Religion begins with externals.
What is more important to you? Cleaning the inside or the outside of your life? Think about that as you think about cleaning your house this week. Hopefully you will take some time to repent and deal with the inside of your life before Christ in the gospel instead of just putting on a masquerade that everything is okay by just cleaning up the outside of your life.