Some of us concern ourselves more with external appearances than others...I say this as a statement of fact, not judgment. I grew up in a home that was always clean and neat...one of my mother's legacies to me. Dirty dishes sitting on the counter?? An anathema to her...and now, to me. I hate dirty dishes, particularly those that are stacked on the counter or in the sink...yuck!
What about you? Does "neatness count" for you...are external appearances important in your lexicon for good living?
What would Jesus do with dirty dishes? Can you believe there's a passage in the Bible that talks about washing dishes? Indeed there is...let's check it out:
Some of the Jews and Jewish leaders (Pharisees) were following Jesus, keeping an eye on him and his followers, trying to find things they could criticize about him and his teachings. They noticed that some of his followers weren't following the Jewish rules for ritual washing before eating their meals. The Jews would never eat until after they did their traditional hand washing ceremony, and until they had observed all their other rules about washing cups, pitchers and kettles.
When they questioned Jesus about the dishwashing problems, the Jewish leaders were fretting about the possibility of becoming spiritually unclean because of an unwashed cup...his response?
First, he said this: "These people honor me with their lips, but their heart is far from me."
Then, Jesus said this about all the dishwashing rituals: "Listen to me, everyone, and understand this. Nothing outside a man can make him 'unclean' by going into him. Rather, it is what comes out of a man that makes him 'unclean.'"
Jesus spent alot of time teaching in parables...stories that were sometimes difficult to understand, unless Jesus explained the meaning. In this case, it seems to me, Jesus puts the message right on the table...
There is no value in "cleaning things up on the outside." If the condition of your heart is unclean, you...are not clean. Your dishes, so to speak, can sparkle and squeak from cleanliness, but that doesn't mean your heart is pure. And if you think God doesn't see through our fake presentations of cleanliness, think again.
A good reminder, for me anyway, of what Lent is about. Lent is about looking at the inside...evaluating our authenticity...it's about making sure our efforts to present a "clean" outside are congruent with a genuine heart for God.
When you worship this Sunday...be sure to check the cleanliness of your heart, rather than just the outer appearance you present to the world.