Blind Pharisee, cleanse first the inside of the cup, so that the outside also may be clean. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You are like whitewashed tombs, which appear beautiful on the outside, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and every kind of filth. Matthew 23:26-27
“I feel clean inside.” Praise told me after her confession. She was joyful and it was reflected on her face. I was driving and was looking at her through the mirror, she was really glad and happy. She rested her head on the seat and her face shines.
Afterward, we went to wash the car in a touch free center. I paid some bucks to get the car clean outside. It was a rather quick fix. Pay. Drive slowly. Wash. Dry. Car is clean outside but not inside. Looks good but only outside.
Then it hit me. This is a battle. Cleaning inside versus cleaning outside. Cleaning inside is free while cleaning outside requires cost yet how do we love to pay! Cleaning inside reflects the outside while cleaning outside is skin deep yet how do we love to stare at the mirror.
We must put on God’s signature in our hearts rather than put on signature clothing. Make up for our shortcomings with God rather than putting it on our faces. Clothe our hearts with holiness and purity more than being dressed for each occasion.
Friends, choose where to feel clean – inside or outside?
(Reposted- originally published August 26, 2009)
But when they continued asking him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” John 8:7
“There’s no such thing as perfect people. There’s no such thing as a perfect life.” These are words from a song of Natalie Grant. The song describes we are all broken and scarred and we can only be changed by our God, a perfect God. We don’t need to masquerade as righteous and holy. When Jesus told them, “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”, He knows there’s no such thing as perfect people. We all have sinned. We are all imperfect. We are all in need of God’s mercy and forgiveness. God knows about this. Jesus knows about this. And we must know about this, too.
Everybody has value. There will be no highly or lowly regarded. We see every one as equals. We listen attentively to anyone not looking upon their status in the society. We will consider everyone’s opinion not looking upon their educational background. We will magnify each one how much significant is their contribution.
Everybody is accepted. There will be no out of place person in the room. We will stretch our arms to anyone. We will turn our eyes to anyone who needs care. No color considered. No position required. No one will be put down. No weakness will be specified.
Everybody needs encouragement. A good word will be available to my boss or to the person who reports to me. We will be extravagant in giving affirmation and honor to anyone. We will stand by anyone if they need a wall to lean on. We will point everyone to what lies ahead. We will live as cheerleaders.
Everybody is loved. Our hearts will know no ID. We will feel affection for the familiar and unfamiliar. We will be like the sun; our brightness will shine on everyone. We will be like the moon; we will light everyone’s night. Everybody will receive our love letters, by our deeds and by our spoken poetry.
God alone is perfect. No stone will be thrown for no such thing as perfect people. We should know this.
She replied, “No one, sir.” Then Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go, (and) from now on do not sin any more.” John 8:11
He was born and have grown up on the other side of the town. That side where he was thrown in the scrap of waste of life. His mother was a drug addict and he and his sibling tended themselves to find food and go to their schools. No one looked after them. No one cared. Nobody knew them. Until, a family or specifically the mother of one family took him on their abode. She saw his future not his past. She saw his promise not his limitations. She (They) loved him like he was never loved before. This is the story behind the movie, The Blind Side. When other people saw the bad, this family saw the good. When other people saw the past, this family saw the future. They saw the blind side. Something people must see but they do not. And when their family saw the blind side, they saw what he can be and not what he has been.
Such is God to us. Jesus did not saw the sinner, he saw the sin. He did not condemn the woman, who was caught of adultery, He gave her forgiveness. Jesus did not focus on the iniquity, He has His eyes on the opportunity. Jesus chose to see what we people must see yet we ignore to see. He sees the goodness in each person we meet day after day. Despite a person’s imperfection lies within a heart full of grace, and this is where God’s eyes are glued upon.
If at some point, we have sinned against God, remember He forgives. If at some point you have fallen short of God’s laws, keep in mind God never condemns. If at some point you bit the wrong fruit, be reminded God sees what you can be and not what you have been. He does not see our darkness, God sees our bright side. And that, my friend, is God’s blind side.
Then each went to his own house. John 7:53
Its truly the march of madness. A low seeded basketball team defeats the number one seeded college ball club. That’s what you call an upset. These college teams are ranked by some method based on their performance in their past games. Analyzing their ranks requires probability to win over another. Thus, high ranked teams has high probabilities to win over low ranked teams. However, these are not embedded on stones. As the tournament begins, upsets happened. A highly touted college team goes home after succumbing to a lesser-expected-to-win team.
Nicodemus sent them home. Yes, he sent his fellow Pharisees and the guards, who were trying to condemn Jesus about His teachings and His works, to their homes. Nicodemus was only one. They were surely more than him. He has the low probability to be heard. His friends outnumber him so they have the higher probability to stand out. Yet, Nicodemus gave his best shot. His probability to be heard was low when he cited the law. Not withstanding he was outnumbered, he spoke about what he believes in. And he pulled an upset.
Are you ready for your own upset? Are you ready to speak out for what you believe in? You may find yourself at the opposite side of the majority. You may have the lowest probability for people to lend their ears to. You may have the lowest rank among people who people will take seriously. You may get the whisper powered microphone in the room. But when you speak the truth. When you speak about God’s law. When you stand up for what is right. God plus you is majority. Send them home. It’s not madness, expect an upset.
Nicodemus, one of their members who had come to him earlier, said to them, Does our law condemn a person before it first hears him and finds out what he is doing? John 7:50-51
He was only one of the members. He was only one voice among many echoes. One experience with Jesus might have change the way he looks at things. The Pharisees are making a judgment on Jesus yet they have not heard from Jesus or have not seen what Jesus was doing. And at this point, Nicodemus reminded them about the law, “Does our law condemn a person before it first hears him and finds out what he is doing?” No matter how the situation places Nicodemus’ reminder as out place, he made up his mind to remind them. When the crowd and the Pharisees were going nowhere, Nicodemus gave them a reminder about the right way. When his troops were clogging in a dead end, Nicodemus reminded them of what takes away the clogging.
We should be like Nicodemus. We should remind people the right way when our friends are taking a wrong path. We should bring light to their clouded hearts and minds by being a reminder. We should take God’s laws into heart as we help people remember His directions to fullness of life. Even when the reminder will be unpopular, speak like Nicodemus. Even when the reminder will be shunned, stand up like Nicodemus.
We should listen to Nicodemus. If a brother or a sister reminds you of God’s ways, embrace the reminder. Give your full attention to your pastor, to your priest, or to your leader when they remind you when you are out of your mind. Carefully digest that Lucado book you are holding, as it reminds you of His love and His mercy. Turn your ears one-hundred percent to your wife and daughters who reminds you of God’s fatherly love. Welcome a reminder in your midst. Welcome a Nicodemus in your life.
Be reminded and be a reminder.
So a division occurred in the crowd because of him. John 7:43
Theoretically, division in mathematics makes sense. When you divide any number with one, the answer would be that any number. For example, 25 divided by 1 is still 25. The number is not diminished since you have one as the divisor. But when you have a number greater than one as the divisor, the dividend will be divided into parts. And all these things makes sense.
However, during Jesus’ time and our times this does not makes sense. Because of Him, the crowd was divided. He is a prophet as some will say. Some say He is the Messiah. Some wanted to put handcuffs on Him. Because of one Person, this world is divided. Our world is divided. It should not be this way, yet we are divided. Approximately and presently there are 38,000 Christian denominations. We believe in Jesus who is one yet we go divided as we go to different churches. Aside from this, as Catholics, we also have different charismatic communities. Even we belong to one catholic church, we are divided.
We believe in one Christ. We follow one Shepherd. We worship one Lord. We believe in one God. To make matters sensible, it is our task to gear for unity not division. Pray for unity in the church. Speak about unity in the church. Work for unity in the church. We should be mathematically correct. And this makes sense.
God is our refuge and our strength, an ever-present help in distress. Thus we do not fear, though earth be shaken and mountains quake to the depths of the sea… Psalm 46:2-3
Two earthquakes in two months. One nation was devastated. Another stood firm and had minimal damage. As the earth shook on these two countries, Haiti suffered the most compared to Chile. Though the scales read further in Chile, Haiti and Haitians bogged down to a weaker quake. News around the web claims that Chile was ready for the unexpected and Haiti wasn’t. With stricter building codes, in place emergency responses and experience in seismic catastrophic events, Chile chilled during the shaking sand.
One lesson is to be learned. It’s not how much strong is the earthquake, its how much ready and prepared you are when the quakes come.
In life, we can be prepared with quakes and catastrophes when we have God as our refuge. He is our shelter to unsettled circumstances this life can bring. God is our protection when life around us shakes and disarranges our concepts. He is our safe haven when the very foundations of our society or family bogs down due to the changing times. Distress and stress can lead us to trembling hours yet we will not fear and we will stand firm with God as our refuge. As unexpected turns of life give us instability, we will depend in the strength we have in God. No matter how strong is the life quake, what matter is that we have God.
Bring on the quakes. Be prepared and be ready. With God as our refuge.