Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Cleaning the Inside as Well as the Out

We believe, with all our hearts, the Scripture’s teaching about Jesus, but do we take seriously and act on the call He makes on our thoughts and attitudes?

Do we profess with our mouth that Jesus is Lord but remain ignorant of the next step, which is to act accordingly—inwardly as well as out?

When I first began the Christian life, I grew strong in firm belief yet persisted in faulty inward living

I could be found to be outwardly serving, yet failing to live the Christian life in the more obscure and much less exotic Christian circle of home, inner attitude, and accountability to God in what I deemed to be less desirable responsibilities.

While I esteemed it correct to follow God’s call to serve “out there” in tangible ways, I neglected to gain traction with Christ’s admonition to follow Him in how I live on the inside. Like the Pharisees, my cup was often clean on the outside only (Luke 11:37-53; Matthew 23).

Progress in the inner Christian life is requisite (2 Peter 1), and if we look at this verse, it isn’t talking about increasing our time in a soup kitchen or on mission trips. I think it goes without saying that physical service is expected, and certainly a good thing. And when we talk about spiritual inner maturity we are not discounting physical outward service.

The point is that both are required (again, Jesus’ main criticism of the Pharisees is this very thing: what they did outwardly did not match their heart condition. And Jesus wasn’t expecting perfection. He was expecting sincere desire to be clean on the inside as well as the outside, never flaunting any of it).

It has been my experience that it is the outward life that is emphasized in the corporate church, while the call to be humble and self-sacrificing in word and deed within our homes—with our children, spouse and extended family—is sorely lacking. And often, the negative results are blamed on the culture, when we, alone, are at fault. 

Again, it goes back to, not what the corporate church or our local pastor emphasizes, but what Christ through Scripture and the Holy Spirit emphasizes to each one of us daily. That is up to each person to take ownership of, young and old.

I believe the world would literally be turned upside down if every professing Christian made it our first priority, in fact our very reason for being, to take it upon ourselves to actually learn all of what pleases Jesus and then to sincerely make it our daily prerogative to please Him inwardly as well as outwardly.

copyright Barb Harwood

     “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

     For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.” 2 Peter 1:3-9

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