The Inside Is What Counts

Cru Weekly Ministry Tip, Spring 2012, #16

When you study the gospels, two religious groups that Jesus confronted were called the Pharisees and the Scribes. We mentioned briefly an encounter Jesus had with a Pharisee last week, but in Matthew 23, Jesus gives what is called the 7 woes to this religious group.

The Pharisees were a sect within Judaism, while the Scribes were responsible for making copies of the scriptures of the OT at that time. The Pharisees sought control of the temple and making sure that everything was run properly. They tried to run the religious life of the ordinary Jew through teaching their traditions. The local scribes would preach in the synagogues according to how the Pharisees interpreted the Scripture. The Pharisees took their relationship with God to a different level by adding more traditions, practices and details to the law which were not necessary.

The main problem with the teaching and traditions of the Pharisees and Scribes is that they would place demands on the people as described in the passage below. Now enter Jesus discussion with these religious leaders in Matthew 23. Here is what he had to say:

2″The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat, 3 so practice and observe whatever they tell you—but not what they do. For they preach, but do not practice. 4 They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger. 5 They do all their deeds to be seen by others.”
13 “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in.”

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.”
27 “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. 28 So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.”

The Inside Is What Counts

The problem with the Pharisees and Scribes, as described by Jesus, is that they were hypocrites. It was all about what people saw on the outside that counted, not the inside. We need to strive to be authentic, honest, transparent believers in a culture where so many people are wearing masks. Masks (symbolically) are what people wear to help them cover the hurt, loneliness, fear, depression and insecurity that they really feel. The more you spend time with people, the more you will see through their masks.

Let us be the people who truly love God from the heart. Work on the inside of your life, because then it will shine through even more on the outside. When we experience a true authentic and intimate walk with God, we can’t help but tell people what is going on inside of us. This summer as you prepare to go home, work, take classes, or attend a summer project, strive to work on the inside by growing in your walk with God.

There are some excellent guidelines on the CruPressGreen to help you in your walk with God.

Ben Rivera/CruPressGreen Team