The Table Connection Week 21


A Georgeous Trash Can

by Shannon Laning

Matthew 23 (NASB)

It’s so hard to think of how to apply Matthew 23 to my everyday life… on opposite day! When thinking about my post this week, my thought process went as follows: verses 1-12 “Okay, this is what I need to talk about because how often do I do things to be seen by others?!”… and then each subsequent set of verses became more and more convicting, so since I don’t like hard things, I am not going to talk about it. Just kidding! But seriously, how crazy convicting is each part of Matthew 23?

The Pharisees were condemned over and over in for lacking humility, choosing the easy way out of things, not practicing what they preached and loving their outward appearance more than what was in their hearts. Ouch, that sounds all too familiar.

Those who know me best know I am a major hypochondriac. Germs, hate them. Sickness, stay away. You threw up 2 days ago, stay at arm’s length. Spraying Seventh Generation disinfecting spray everywhere, normal.

So what “woe” do you think stood out to me? Verse 25-26 which says, “Woe to you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also.” Y’all, I am good at cleaning. And you bet I don’t forget the inside of the dish, but since we know this is a metaphor, let’s drive into it together.

As a woman and fashion blogger, I have become pretty adept in making my appearance look good. I know how to apply makeup and dress to cover those extra baby pounds that just won’t come off. They’ve taken refuge in my hips like guests who’ve overstayed their holiday welcome by three years. But you can’t overdress you heart. The Bible says that from the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks (Matthew 12:34).

I can be the “prettiest” woman in the room yet with a heart filled with hate, comparison, and self-indulgence. And do you know where I see my Pharisee-likeness the most? It’s in the way I react to my kids or husband when they do things I don’t like. If my first thought is to get angry or think “they/he are just not being fair” that’s a real #checkyourheart (thanks John Crist) moment for me. My outward appearance is constantly losing collagen and luster. But because of God’s grace, our insides can do the exact opposite. The more time we spend in the Bible, meditating on the word, and acting as Jesus would, the more beautiful and clean (yay!) our insides become.

While God certainly does care about us taking care of our physical bodies (1 Corinthians 6:19-20), His utmost care is for our souls. He is not like the Pharisees in Matthew 23:14 who share the amazing news of His glory and then leave us to blindly figure it out on our own. The more we try to know Him, the more we will and the more our inside being, the more sacred part of our person, becomes more and more beautiful like Christ himself.

Clean is good. I love being clean and germ-free. But if I stayed away from temptation and things that aren’t like Christ as much as I spray sanitizer, and if I attack my depravity with as much fervor as I do the rhinovirus, how much better off is my soul?

And since I know you’re not supposed to end a blog post with a question, just know that the Seventh Generation disinfecting spray is amazing and doesn’t have to be wiped off like its competitors. You’re welcome.

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