Friday, January 19, 2018


As God had warned the Prophet Samuel who had been sent out to anoint the next King of Israel (1 Samuel 16), it is difficult to judge another by the appearances. Perhaps it is even impossible without time and close contact. Generally, we seldom get beyond the facade.

Jesus took it a step further when He denounced the moral role-models of His day:

  • "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people's bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” (Matthew 23:25-28)

On the outside, the Pharisees looked impressive, even to Jesus' disciples. The Pharisees are still regarded as paragons of virtue by the Orthodox Jewish community. However, Jesus charged that the worst condemnation was reserved for these hypocrites.

However, according to appearances, we Christians often look worse. I want to present a few reasons for this:

  • Not all who say "Lord, Lord" are really Christians (Matthew 7:21).

  • God had chosen His children from the bottom-of-the-barrel, from among society's rejects (1 Corinthians 1:26-29). Consequently, we are often crude and rude.

  • God's judgments - His refining processes -  begin with His own household (1 Peter 4:17). As in any construction site, things will look quite messy. The heat of the trials brings many ugly things to the surface. In contrast, when our lives remain relatively placid, our well-tended facade remains in place to impress onlookers.

  • The inner and unseen changes must come first. We are being rebuilt from the inside out.  We are first humbled and broken so that a solid foundation can be laid on the bedrock of self-despair and dependence on God (2 Corinthians 1:8-9).

In this regard, Jesus told a parable about two sons who were both directed by their father to perform a certain work. The first said he would do it but didn't. The second said he wouldn't do it but then reconsidered. 

The Christian is the second son. While we might not be as predisposed as the Pharisees to perform the duties of God, stricken inside and then convicted to do the right thing, we reconsider. We are continually being humbled so that we will pursue healing that can only be found through Jesus:

  • If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:8-9)

We must not judge according to the way things seem. According to Jesus, our judgments must not be based on mere appearances:

“If on the Sabbath a man receives circumcision, so that the law of Moses may not be broken, are you angry with me because on the Sabbath I made a man's whole body well? Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment." (John 7:23-24)

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