Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Beautiful Faces and Ugly Souls

Beautiful Faces and Ugly Souls

Reputation is what people think we are; character is what God knows we are.
            -Warren Wiersbe

Luke 11:37-44
37 When Jesus had finished speaking, a Pharisee invited him to eat with him; so he went in and reclined at the table. 38 But the Pharisee was surprised when he noticed that Jesus did not first wash before the meal. 39 Then the Lord said to him, “Now then, you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness.40 You foolish people! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also? 41 But now as for what is inside you—be generous to the poor, and everything will be clean for you. 42 “Woe to you Pharisees, because you give God a tenth of your mint, rue and all other kinds of garden herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God. You should have practiced the latter without leaving the former undone. 43 “Woe to you Pharisees, because you love the most important seats in the synagogues and respectful greetings in the marketplaces. 44 “Woe to you, because you are like unmarked graves, which people walk over without knowing it.”

Beautiful Faces
Today’s society is dominated by the desire for beauty. Advertisers use beautiful people to push their products, subliminally conveying the idea that you the viewer can be beautiful too if you buy their products. Movies and television choose the most attractive people to play the most important roles, and a quick flipping through the channels reveals that there are no average looking people on television. Facebook, Instagram, and your Iphone camera offer instant access to different filters and editing tools to make you look better. There are famous people who are simply famous for being attractive. In a media obsessed culture, everyone is spending a lot of time looking at beautiful people, and in turn, they desire to become beautiful. The fitness industry is growing rich selling expensive gym memberships, vitamins, supplements, and weight loss quick fixes as people hope that they can look like actors in a movie, women in a magazine, or people in a commercial. This society has birthed “Plastic Surgery” where men and women can get their bodies changed to look the way they want them to look. Today’s culture is obsessed with beauty--beautiful clothes, beautiful hair, beautiful bodies, but ugly souls.
The outside is all that matters; people are no longer judged by who they are but by what designer they are wearing, what size waist they have, how big their muscles are, or how perfect their makeup looks.

Ugly Souls
While society has been obsessed with beauty, they have neglected the soul. The soul is the inside you. You can’t put a mask on the soul because only you and God understand the condition of your soul. At night, when you are alone with your thoughts, you better understand the condition of your soul. When your soul is not healthy, you find yourself trying to keep busy to keep from thinking about the nagging feeling that you are not in a good place on the inside. There are many beautiful people with ugly souls.

Think of the Pharisees as the movie stars of Biblical days. They were the people everyone looked at and wanted to be like. They were seen as beautiful people. They were not seen as beautiful physically, but they were perceived to be beautiful spiritually. Everyone wanted to be like them. The Pharisees loved the attention and worked hard to keep up appearances.

Into this background steps a Pharisee who invites Jesus to eat with him (V.37). This Pharisee sees that Jesus did not first “wash”. This is not a simple washing of the hands, but rather a ceremonial cleansing that the Pharisees would do. They thought by the ceremonial cleaning they would be clean spiritually. This was not found in the law, but it was practiced by the Pharisees.
Jesus says to him, You Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness” (V.39). Jesus is explaining to him that he can wash his hands a thousand times, but it will not clean his heart. His soul is still ugly.
This Pharisee was more concerned with what people can see…He didn’t see Jesus take part in a ceremonial cleaning, and because of it, he judged Jesus.

Are you so focused on performing that you have wound up with an ugly soul?
     Are you praying for meals but neglecting your conversational prayer with God?
     Are you dressing up in beautiful clothes on your way to church, but your buttoned suit jacket covers a heart and soul that are filled with sin?
     Are you opening your Bible in your reserved church seat but neglecting to open it, study it, learn from it, and change because of it throughout the week?
     Are you singing songs filled with God’s truths during worship and then using your same mouth to swear, talk badly about someone else, and stir up trouble throughout the week?
     Are you dropping your offering in the plate on Sunday and then refuse to give to those in need because you have already done your duty?

Jesus is not as concerned with your reputation as He is with your character.
Jesus is not as concerned with how you look on Sunday as He is with how your life looks throughout the week.
Jesus is not as concerned about what type of songs your mouth sings Sunday as He is about what comes out of your mouth throughout the week.

“How’s your soul?”
It is a question asked by Judah Smith in his book How’s Your Soul, and it is an important question for each of us to answer.
Do you look like a model Christian on the outside, but your soul is in shambles? Don’t fake a relationship with Christ any longer; the real thing is far too valuable for you to neglect.

Don’t Serve God your Dirty Dishes
Jesus uses the example of an unmarked grave to describe the Pharisees’ life that looked good on the outside, but inside was full of death.
This past Sunday, Pastor Evans held up a cup, the outside was shiny and almost sparkled, but when he revealed the inside of the cup it was obvious to all that the cup was so dirty that even one who was on the verge of dehydration would think twice before being willing to drink from it.
That is what we are serving to God when we look good on the outside but neglect the cleaning of our souls.
What does your soul look like? Are you an unmarked grave? Are you a dirty dish?

Cleaning our Souls
So how do we go about cleaning our souls?

1) We begin with prayer: Aside from the sinner’s plea for salvation, I believe there is no better prayer than the saint’s prayer for God’s cleansing of his soul.

Psalm 139:23-24
Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. 24 See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

Ask God to reveal to you what you need to clean up in your life. Chances are, you already have a few things in mind.

2) Remember the joy of your salvation: The beautiful thing is that God already knows the state of your soul. You never had Him fooled, and yet He never loved you any less. Allow God’s goodness to lead you to rebuild your relationship with God.

Psalm 51:12
Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

Remember what it was like when you first found Christ? Remember the unconditional love? Remember that He loved you before you loved Him? Remember that you are considered His son/daughter and friend?

Stop trying to earn His love…serve Him, obey Him, glorify His name because of the love that He has for you.

3) Allow God’s Word to Transform You:

2 Timothy 3:16-17
16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God[a]may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Is your soul in need of words from the Creator God? Does your soul need teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness? Do you want to be equipped for every good work?

Read God’s Word.

How’s your soul? Have you spent more time working on the outside you or the inside you?

Do not forget to take care of your soul, by running to the One who created it.

Psalm 62:5

Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him.