Today’s word from the Lord reminds us to make sure that we are not only serving Him outwardly but, more importantly, inwardly. This is not a call to negate or ignore physical practices of the Christian faith such as tithing, giving offerings, partaking of communion, or attending church every Sunday morning. It is, however, an entreatment of the body of believers to make sure our hearts are in the right place while practicing physical services to the Lord. Let us take a look at our key text in Matthew 23:27-28 (KJV).
27 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. 28 Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.
In this passage, Jesus is chastising the scribes and Pharisees in the presence of His disciples as well as a gathered multitude. Jesus rather vehemently informs His listeners that He loathes the act of people seeking to appear spiritually perfect on the outside while they are quite spiritually defunct on the inside. In His words, He says such people are like unto sepulchres — stone burial chambers — beautifully painted white on the outside yet filled with death on the inside.
We as believers must strive to avoid this type of life style, and it can be more easily said than done. Sometimes we can get so caught up trying to do all the right religious actions that we forget what God tells us are more important things — like loving our neighbor as ourselves. So how do we make sure our hearts are in the right place? God has given us a prescription for that in I Corinthians 13:1-6:
1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. 4 Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, 5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; 6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;
This New Testament passage following the Book of Matthew a few books later spells everything out for us crystal clear. We can speak in tongues all day, give all our possessions away, and even have faith to move mountains, but if we do not have charity — the love like that of God the Father — in our hearts, our works ar for nothing.
So, my friends, let us remember as we go about our days to have the love of the Lord in our hearts, because ultimately that means more to God than the perfect church attendance, the biggest offering check, or the longest prayer.
Have a blessed day!
The founder of Your Black Poets, Ayvaunn Penn is an award-winning writer pursuing her graduate degrees in dramatic writing and acting. Click to follow her on Facebook and Twitter. To have Ayvaunn Penn feature your original poetry on Your Black Poets, click here.