Have you ever wondered why you
“spin your wheels?”
And… Why is it looked upon with such admiration when a person runs “like a chicken with their head cut off,” in the name of doing good?
What and who benefits from a person living like this?
The answer to these questions comes from several verses in Matthew 23.
Matthew 23: 13-29 gives a list of “7 woes” to the teachers of the law and to the Pharisees.
In these verses, Jesus points out that which the Pharisees were doing or practicing versus what they were teaching and preaching. He said they placed more emphasis on the “less important” facets of the law, and didn’t actually practice what they preached.
While they tithed consistently (Matthew 23:23), they “neglected the more important matters of the law- justice, mercy, and faithfulness.” He said they should have practiced the latter without neglecting the former.
He called them BLIND guides. Pretty harsh words, but truth all the same.
He then admonished them for “cleaning the outside of the cup and dish, while inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence” (Matthew 23:25).
Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup, so the outside of it may also become clean.
Which says to me, that the outside is not truly “able” to be clean, until the inside is clean.
So, we see here that Jesus was painting a picture of the Pharisees, and teachers of the law as self-righteous, high and mighty- yet, blind people. They took pleasure in being called, “Teacher,” in being seated in the “honored” places, and they played the “Holier than thou” part with “perfection.“
Matthew 23: 5
They do everything to be observed by others: They enlarge their phylacteries (That is, boxes containing Scripture verses, worn on forehead and arm) and lengthen their tassels.
All while neglecting the true purpose, or the more important points of the law, like justice, mercy, and faithfulness. Hence, misleading the masses that would try to follow their “Holy” example.
There Christ was telling them that not even through their laboring and public “sacrifices” would they enter Heaven- and not only would they not enter, but their example would prevent others who were trying to enter, being able to enter.
By making the details more important that the event, they lost their opportunity and subsequently ruined the opportunity for others.
When we look to the law instead of Christ to show us how to enter into the Kingdom of God, we may misinterpret the importance of it and miss the bigger picture.
Moving along— the outside of the cup, or the outward appearance of our lives can only be purified by the inward change of heart.
Matthew 23: 18-19
You also say, ‘If anyone swears by the altar, it means nothing; but anyone who swears by the gift on the altar is bound by that oath.’ 19 You blind men! Which is greater: the gift, or the altar that makes the gift sacred?
Just as the gift on the altar is less important than the altar itself and is only sanctified by being on the altar- we as people are sanctified by Christ from within– in order to then be an outward blessing or expression of His love and mercy…but, only in that order.
You can’t go around doing blessings, acts of kindness, or good deeds to improve your outcome- or to increase your chances of getting into the Kingdom of God.
On the contrary, you can only be a true blessing and do truly good deeds and works after the finished work of Christ cleanses and purifies your soul- thus, enabling you to do this.
Thus, “cleaning” the outside does nothing to purify or transform your soul. Serving in church, doing a “good deed” to help someone else, and otherwise “acting” like a Christian or “faking it to make it” stick … (In essence, doing the actions of a Christian without the feeling or desire to do so, in an effort to form a habit, that will in turn make one more Christ-like, by going through the motions until one’s heart changes) – all of this does nothing to actually make a person a Christian, or a “better” Christian, at that.
It’s like spinning your wheels to believe this mentality. Like doing cart wheels until you’re dizzy.
Do the first things first.
First, is to have that Christ encounter- build that relationship first- and then everything else will be built upon it. Everything else will then be able to be “cleaned,” will be able to “come out” of you. The good deeds, etc. will be allowed to manifest themselves from your life because you did what was important first.
You followed the person of Christ, and not just a list of rules or a specific formula to derive a temporary satisfaction or immediate gratification from the idea that you are “doing” Christ’s work.
All the while, you are being a poor example of Christ and hindering the ability of others to make it to the Kingdom of God because they are looking up to you, and thinking that this is how a Christian grows in “Christ-likeness,” when in fact it is not.
Instead of Christ doing His own work through you as a natural outpouring of your spirit being aligned and sanctified to and by His own.
Are you spinning your wheels today? Why? For what?
Are you building that Christ centered relationship where your “works” are not works at all, but the natural outward expressions of Christ’s love, justice, mercy, and faithfulness in your life?
Find the verses in Español by following this link: San Mateo 23.