Whether you joined us for the sugar fast, or not, I hope this devotional (from the 40 Day Sugar Fast), on Matthew 23, will inspire you to live out an authentic faith, not a hypocritical one.
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Woe to you, [self-righteous] scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which look beautiful on the outside, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean. So you, also, outwardly seem to be just and upright to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” (Matthew 23:27-28, AMP)
Read Matthew 23.
Image management and behavior modification are twins sisters that tag along on my faith journey. Actually, they often lead the way as I race to and fro, trying to keep up appearances.
I desperately want to look good and put together (physically and spiritually) but my heart isn’t always as tidy and polished as I appear.
One afternoon, I was trying to “get in the zone” and connect with the Lord, in a blissful state of worship and reflection. But after a few minutes I was interrupted by an innocent bystander (a.k.a. a beloved family member) and I flew off the handle, “Can’t you see I’m trying to spend time with God, here?!”
I certainly didn’t act very Christlike toward this person, as I tried to connect with Christ.Lord, please bridge the gap between my outward behavior and my inward belief. Click To Tweet
And I wonder how often our grand attempts be more holy, actually showcase a disconnect between our outward and inward life.
…for the LORD sees not as mans sees; man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart. (1 Samuel 16:7b, ESV)
The Holy Spirit reveals our disconnected places—the gap between our belief and behavior—not to embarrass us but to help us identify areas that need growth. He does so out of love, not condemnation, so that we are spurred on, to change—for God’s glory and our good.
Are you spending your time and energy polishing the outside, while neglecting the inside?
This is not an accusation but an invitation to move toward spiritual health and wholeness.
We are not left alone to figure things out nor expected to muster up enough resolve to change on our own strength. Jesus has given us the Holy Spirit, an Advocate and Helper, to remind us of truth and lead us in what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy (see Philippians 4:8).
But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. (John 14:26, ESV)
Even on our worst days, we are completely loved by Jesus. Even when the disconnect between what we we believe and how we live is vast, God’s loves us so much, that He helps us see as He does.God calls us out: from death to life, from impurity to purity, from hypocrisy to humility, from idol worship to true worship, from living for the temporary comforts of the world to finding lasting comfort in Him. Click To Tweet
He loves us as we are yet He convicts us of sin and leads us in what is best for us and what will bring Him honor.
Thank You that You love us more than we can fathom. Thank You that You are patient and compassionate toward us. Forgive us for the times when we care more about status than surrender, more about being liked than being obedient, more about comforts than commitments. Thank You that Your grace is more than sufficient for our weaknesses. Please bridge the gap between our outward behavior and our inward belief. And may we delight in You, the One who formed our bodies and sustains our souls. Amen.
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