One of the things I noticed when I moved to Richton, MS was the different styles of dumpsters people had in their yards. Greene county does not provide everyone with a nice, universal, rolling trash bin. Some dumpsters are made out of metal or iron. Some are made out of plastic with metal or aluminum grating on the outside. Some are larger than others. The ones that stand out to me the most, though, are the ones that have a nice wooden casing. They look really nice. You wouldn't expect them to be a trash bins. The trash is hidden by this nice outer casing. To tell you the truth I actually thought about building a casing around mine.
This made me think about a particular encounter that Jesus had with the Pharisees. Matthew, in his gospel, records this encounter. You may know of it as the "Seven Woes to the Scribes and Pharisees." Here Jesus lays out exactly who the Scribes and Pharisees really are. Jesus gives two word pictures that I want to talk about. In one instance Jesus talks about how the Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and plate, but inside it is still full of greed and self-indulgence. Jesus calls them blind and instructs them to clean the inside first that the outside may be clean as well. He moves on from that to give a picture of a whitewashed tomb. He tells them that outwardly they may seem to be beautiful, but inside they are full of dead people's bones and uncleanness.
The point of the illustrations is that outwardly they may have appeared to be righteous, but inwardly they were full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. Just like the trash bins we talk about. They may be pretty on the outside, but if you open that lid and take a big whiff, you might be knocked out by the smell. So are we like the Scribes and Pharisees. Do we go to church to look good? Do we do good deeds to look good? Do we say nice things to look good? You can try as hard as you want to make yourself look good, but it won't change who you are on the inside. When Jesus called them hypocrites, He was calling them actors. They were playing the part, but it wasn't who they really were. So do we lie to people at church. Do we put on a costume every Sunday? If I were to ask your child what you were like at home, would I get the same picture of the person I see at church or out in public in general? Your family knows who you really are.
So how do we clean up the inside? We must turn our lives over to Christ. The truth is that we can't clean up our lives, on our own. We need God's help. He can and is willing to do it, but we must turn our lives over to Him. You see once we turn ourselves over to Him, He makes us new. The Holy Spirit, who is God, comes to live within us. Then we let Him live through us. The inside is clean. We are made good, not because of who we are, but who we have within us. Then, since we are good, we do good. It's not about trying to look good, its looking good because we are good. Otherwise we are nothing more than stinking garbage in a pretty wooden box.