When I went to the grocery store, I could not turn down a tote bag of apples that was on sale. I was excited to have a great supply of apples; however, when I got home I found a few rotten apples that were hidden in the middle of the tote. They had to have been rotting for days, and they had begun to spread their nastiness to a few of their neighbors.
The bag of apples looked inviting until I got to peer at the inside of the bag. In the same way, there may be people who have the outer appearance of living one way, but if you view the inside you would get a whole different story. We spend a lot of time trying to shine up the apples on the top of the tote, the ones everyone sees; however, we do not often work on the inside. Jesus told the Pharisees not to worry about the outside so much, but to focus on the inside. Because when the inside is clean, the outside would soon follow. Whatever is inside overflows outward.
Today, consider the inside of your own personal tote bag. Yes, consider your heart. Look at your motives. Look at your desires. Ask the Spirit to help you examine closely and reveal anything that shouldn’t be there. Today is a great day to toss out any rotten apples and press forward in your walk.
“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.” – Matthew 23:26-27 [ESV]
In Revelation we read about the church in Sardis. The church was spiritually dead. The Message calls them “stone-dead.” They looked alive. They had a reputation for vigor. But they were like the whitewashed tombs Jesus spoke about when referring to the Pharisees. From the outside it looked great but it was a façade and God is not fooled.
You might look like you have it all together. You might tithe, serve at the local soup kitchen, attend Sunday service. You might look like you are being a “good Christian.” But God sees the heart—He sees your heart. He can see right through the work and know if you are doing it because you have a heart for Him and His people or if you are doing it to keep up with the Joneses or to appear righteous.
There was a clear warning to the people of Sardis. Jesus told them to wake up, repent and strengthen what remained in them. Today I pray that you are not a stone-dead worker. May God reveal to you the areas within you that are not alive and may you repent if your eyes are opened to these things. Never aim for a false reputation. Never build up a façade life. There is no point to a dead worker.
“Write this to Sardis, to the Angel of the church. The One holding the Seven Spirits of God in one hand, a firm grip on the Seven Stars with the other, speaks: ‘I see right through your work. You have a reputation for vigor and zest, but you’re dead, stone-dead.’” – Revelation 3:1 [MSG]
I recently moved into a new home. Before I moved in, there was a work crew here making sure that all of the blemishes were no longer visible. The nail holes were patched up. The walls were painted. Where there once was a mark on the wall, there was fresh paint. You know paint can cover up so much. For example, you can have a scrap on your car and a bit of touch up paint will make it go away. It doesn’t mean the scrap didn’t happen. It doesn’t mean you didn’t get a little too close to the garage. But it looks like nothing happened.
Long ago they would whitewash the tombs. They wanted to be sure that the graves were easily marked, some would say covered with lime or chalk, but it helped them consider it pure in case someone walked up to the tomb. Otherwise, if the whitewashing didn’t occur, a person would be contaminated, defiled for being in close contact with the dead.
Today’s passage says we cannot whitewash our sins. We cannot cover them over. We cannot pretend they aren’t there. We cannot take a paintbrush and cover it all up. Instead, we are to admit our sins. We are to confess and repent. If something you have done has not yet been confessed, get it out now. God is quick to forgive. You simply need to confess your sins and move forward. Don’t hide them behind some whitewash and think they will go away. Receive God’s mercy. Confess and receive His mercy.
“You can’t whitewash your sins and get by with it;
you find mercy by admitting and leaving them.”
-Proverbs 28:13 [MSG]