I recently took advantage of a few days of warm weather to try and improve the appearance of our garage. I scrubbed green mildew off the pull-down metal door until it was completely white and then painted the wooden frame surrounding the door and the panelling above, previously matt black, brilliant white to complement the door. The transformation was striking and I was able to take pleasure in seeing the front of the garage, now clean and white, shining in the afternoon sunshine.
After I had finished the work, I reflected on a further job that would need to be done now that spring had truly arrived – to clean out and tidy the inside of the garage, which was looking and probably smelling the worse for the long damp winter. It caused me to think how, just as I had wanted to improve the outward appearance of our garage before cleaning on the inside, I can so easily strive to make my life appear outwardly OK, but not truly face up to inner issues that God sees, even if others don’t. I don’t know about you, but I find that, if I neglect to face up to those things, they eventually show through to the surface anyway.
The words of Scripture in our Seed today were spoken by Jesus to the religious leaders who opposed Him. They were strong words, but were spoken in love out of His concern not only for those whom the leaders condemned and led astray, but also out of genuine concern for the leaders themselves. When Jesus told the parable of the Lost Son in Luke 15, the elder brother in the story represented the religious leaders who had condemned Him for ‘welcoming sinners and eating with them’, but the Father in the story wanted that elder son, i.e. the Pharisees and Sadducees, to be part of the family just as much as the younger prodigal who had just returned home.
Jesus doesn’t want what goes on beneath the surface of my life to resemble the inside of a tomb, as He described the inner life of the Pharisees. He came to bring life and relationship with Himself instead of dead religion. However messy you or I might feel on the inside, He doesn’t expect us to clean up that mess ourselves. He promises His presence and power through His Holy Spirit to help us face every issue in our lives. As we allow Him to come as Lord into every area of our life, we find that we are changed from the inside out, from one degree of glory to another, so that others, looking from the outside, begin to see His likeness and character shining through.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, forgive me for the times when I’m content to look OK on the outside, but don’t let You change me on the inside. Please help me to let You shine Your light and truth into the hidden places of my heart, so that You then shine out of my life for others to see. In Your name, I pray. Amen.
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