Good morning:

What would you think of a dishwasher which cleaned the outside of cups and bowls to a spotless, germ-free shine, but did nothing with the inside? The dishes would look great stacked in the cupboard, but who would want to use them with leftovers from previous meals stuck to the inside? Jesus once used a similar analogy. He said, “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence” (Matt. 23:25).

Have we done the same thing? We work hard at looking good on the outside to maintain our reputation. We want others to think well of us. Maybe we even imagine that what we do polishes our image before God? But the truth is “Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart” (1 Sam. 16:7). What He sees there is anything but clean. We would be ashamed to let anyone see all the dirt on the inside of our hearts. Our thoughts and motives often completely contradict our outward appearance.

So how does the “inside” get clean enough for God? Anything we might attempt would only make things messier. It would be like trying to wash dishes in greasy water with filthy hands. Rather, God Himself cleans us from the inside out. “Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy cleansing her by the washing with water through the word” (Eph. 5:25-26).

Perfectly clean on the inside by faith in Jesus, we have reason to strive for holiness on the outside in our words and actions. “We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?” (Rom. 6:2). May our words and actions today be an outward reflection of Jesus’ righteousness in our hearts.

Tomorrow’s sermon text (Mk. 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23) is Jesus’ instruction and encouragement to trust Him for the inner cleansing we need. Missionary Peter Evensen will conduct the services (8:00 and 9:30 a.m.).

Yours in Christ,

Thank you for the many prayers and encouragement we have received over the past week! Sue’s hip surgery on Wednesday went well. She was released from the hospital yesterday afternoon. A lengthy recovery lies ahead, but the Lord’s mercies are new every morning!

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