My husband Larry has a Siamese cat named Bear. To say he loves that cat would be a gross understatement. There are times when I wonder if it came down to me or the cat, if I would lose! If you are a Facebook friend with Larry then you have seen pictures, several times a week of Bear and what he is doing.
Just last night while I was preparing supper, I heard Larry producing a video of “the six words Bear understands”. It will probably show up on YouTube also! Bear is a beautiful cat. Some of Larry’s photos of him have appeared in regional ads for the Alabama breeder that helped Bear into this world. You could say the cat is beautiful, spoiled and famous because of all the press he gets. Bear does a great job of grooming himself. Most of his day is spent eating, grooming, sleeping, and posing for Larry’s photos. He is finicky in all of these areas and could easily wear the “prima donna” title. Bear seems to be perfect and he talks constantly in the characteristic Siamese screech to let you know that he is. Bear’s public image is spotless.
In all of Bear’s outward perfectness, recently he reminded me of what we as humans deal with often, the inner man. Bear came in from romping in the backyard and began to gag and throw up.. Deposited on the floor was the contents of Bear’s morning adventures. It was undeniably a dismembered cockroach draped in hairballs and slime. With disgust – I hate roaches –I said to Larry, “You should take a picture of that and post it on Facebook”!
In the same moment, the Holy Spirit reminded me that the outward man is not the true picture of who we are. It is what we consume during our romp through life and how we deal with our sin nature that is the true picture. We bathe, dress, have our hair and nails done and pose for “selfies” but it’s the inner man that reveals our true character.
Jesus scolded the Pharisees, the perfect religious leaders of the day for the difference between their outward appearance and their inner man. In Matthew 23:1-28 (NLT) we find Jesus’ teaching about the Pharisees. “Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, “The teachers of religious law and the Pharisees are the official interpreters of the law of Moses. So, practice and obey whatever they tell you, but don’t follow their example. For they don’t practice what they teach. They crush people with unbearable religious demands and never lift a finger to ease the burden. “Everything they do is for show. On their arms they wear extra wide prayer boxes with Scripture verses inside, and they wear robes with extra-long tassels. And they love to sit at the head table at banquets and in the seats of honor in the synagogues. They love to receive respectful greetings as they walk in the marketplaces, and to be called ‘Rabbi’ “Don’t let anyone call you ‘Rabbi,’ for you have only one teacher, and all of you are equal as brothers and sisters. And don’t address anyone here on earth as ‘Father,’ for only God in heaven is your Father. And don’t let anyone call you ‘Teacher,’ for you have only one teacher, the Messiah. The greatest among you must be a servant. But those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted. “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees? Hypocrites! For you shut the door of the Kingdom of Heaven in people’s faces. You won’t go in yourselves, and you don’t let others enter either. “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees? Hypocrites! For you cross land and sea to make one convert, and then you turn that person into twice the child of hell you yourselves are! “Blind guides! What sorrow awaits you! For you say that it means nothing to swear ‘by God’s Temple,’ but that it is binding to swear ‘by the gold in the Temple.’ Blind fools! Which is more important—the gold or the Temple that makes the gold sacred? And you say that to swear ‘by the altar’ is not binding, but to swear ‘by the gifts on the altar’ is binding. How blind! For which is more important—the gift on the altar or the altar that makes the gift sacred? When you swear ‘by the altar,’ you are swearing by it and by everything on it. And when you swear ‘by the Temple,’ you are swearing by it and by God, who lives in it. And when you swear ‘by heaven,’ you are swearing by the throne of God and by God, who sits on the throne. “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees? Hypocrites! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens, but you ignore the more important aspects of the law—justice, mercy, and faith. You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things. Blind guides! You strain your water, so you won’t accidentally swallow a gnat, but you swallow a camel! “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees? Hypocrites! For you are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are filthy—full of greed and self-indulgence! You blind Pharisee! First wash the inside of the cup and the dish, and then the outside will become clean, too. “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees? Hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs—beautiful on the outside but filled on the inside with dead people’s bones and all sorts of impurity. Outwardly you look like righteous people, but inwardly your hearts are filled with hypocrisy and lawlessness”. Like Bear, we must purge the inside to get rid of the hairballs and cockroaches or our Christianity is only a façade like the Pharisees lived. Lord help us be real!