Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Whitewashed Lives

The externals are there. The words are right. The look is appropriate. Wholesome activities are emphasized. But, as Christians, how often do we deceive ourselves, giving lip service to what's right, only to realize that we're merely going through the motions? Is the love we have for our Savior truly genuine? Or could we be lumped in with those the prophet Isaiah spoke of, "This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me" (Matthew 15:8; KJV). How many times have I majored on the trivial things, only to miss the point God was patiently trying to teach me?

Hear the words He whispers, "It's a question of your heart, child. Who sits on the throne of your heart?"As a believer, my answer should be, "Christ." But all too often, I've glanced at the throne, only to see my reflection staring back at me. I've been calling the shots. I've been so busy managing the external image that I've missed His still, small voice beckoning me to deal with the root issues. Instead of rushing around putting out the many fires of inconsistency in my life, He longs to show me the single blaze that started all the other fires in the first place.

Pride saunters confidently onto the scene. He's a seasoned pro. He gloats over those from centuries ago, whom he has been able to seduce. Take a look at the scribes and Pharisees of Jesus' time. Religious leaders with enviable pedigrees. The cream of the crop who were well-educated and highly esteemed in their day. They certainly looked like they had it 'all together.' But Jesus wasn't fooled. He was quick to see Pride's strangle-hold on their lives. "Woe unto you, scribes ad Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness" (Matthew 23:27).

Wait just a minute! How dare Jesus speak to these respected leaders this way! Weren't these men dedicated to keeping every jot and tittle of the Law? Jesus pointed out their error, "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone. Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel." (Matthew 23: 23-24). They had it all wrong, focusing on the small stuff rather than concentrating on the big issue.

While these men tried so desperately to maintain a pious exterior, Jesus was well-aware of the evil root of Pride that had taken control of their hearts. As Jesus' popularity grew and His followers increased, Pride teamed up with Jealousy to stir up these religious leaders. "Then assembled together the chief priests, and the scribes, and the elders of the people, unto the palace of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas, And consulted that they might take Jesus by subtilty, and kill him. But they said, Not on the feast day, lest there be an uproar among the people" (Matthew 26:3-5).

These men were determined to keep up appearances. They were the religious leaders, who did this carpenter think He was, anyway? And yet, in spite of their attempts to discredit Him, His answers left them speechless and His followers continued to increase in number! They refused to accept Him as the promised Messiah because He didn't fit their description of who they thought He should be. Pride had such a tight grip on their hearts, that their eyes had been blinded. 'Self' remained on the throne, and Pride remained the victor.

A choice must be made. Will we continue putting out our own small fires, refusing to deal with the bigger blaze that's creating them? Will we refuse to give up our position on the throne of our life and end up like the Pharisees? Or will we deal with the root of our sin, and purpose to live by the words of the Apostle Paul, "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service" (Romans 12:1).

A beautiful promise is given to all who surrender the throne of their hearts to the Lord Jesus Christ, "God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble" (James 3:6b). The promise of grace. Make the right choice today!

Prayer: Gracious Heavenly Father, Help me to submit myself to You. Help me to resist the devil, knowing that he will flee from me. Help me to draw near to You, knowing that you will draw near to me. Cleanse me from all unrighteousness. Amen.


  1. This is beautiful, Maria. Have you considered binding all of your blogs and making them into a devotional book? They are so good, so poignant.

  2. Yes, I agree. A devotional book would be lovely.

    I think that what you spoke on today is a very immediate issue within the Christian community. We need to take stock of our inner thoughts. Are we submitting to God, or are we putting on appearances for the rest of the world? Very thought-provoking and humbling. I love today's post, and I love your honesty, Maria.

  3. Marji - What a sweet word of encouragement, Marji! I've kicked the idea around a bit, but wasn't quite sure how it would be perceived since they're already 'published' (available on the web). I'm working on a book proposal for a Bible study/devotional at the moment. Excited to see how the Lord will lead! Have a very blessed day, my friend!! Hugs! :)

  4. Brandi - Thanks for your encouragement! You're absolutely right about the Christian community we live in today. I have to admit, I struggle with this issue - forgetting that God is the One I'm to live for and not the approval of others. Praying that as believers, we have such a close relationship with Christ, that our actions flow out of our love for Him!
    (John 13:35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.) God bless you, Brandi!

  5. What you're basically addressing here Maria is the Lordship of Jesus Christ in our lives. Often we want Him as a savior, but not as Lord, which means He is indeed on the throne.
    Great post, as always. Truly appreciate your writing Maria, go for the devotional!

  6. Marja - Exactly! This is something that I struggle with - control. The Lord is faithful to remind me that there is only room for one on the throne and it's His throne! Thanks for the encouraging words about the devotional - I'm in the process of writing a book proposal for my fruit of the spirit Bible study/devotion. Maybe I'll write up a proposal for a devotional/inspirational piece as well! I'll keep you posted! Have a blessed Lord's day tomorrow!

  7. I think we all struggle with the issue of God's soverignty on every aspect of our life. Grerat blog post. So happy to have found you! Would love for you to check out my Christian devotional blog too. Blessings! Nicki

  8. Nicki - Welcome to Life Lessons! Thanks so much for following and leaving a comment. You're absolutely right - God's sovereignty is something that's hard to get our small minds around. Difficult to imagine that the One who created it all could care so much about each and every one of us! What an amazing God we serve! I look forward to checking out your site. God bless!