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. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. Matthew 23:25-28 (NKJV)
One of the main things a Pharisee did was make sure he was ceremonially clean. It was very much a central part of their lifestyle. They almost went to absurd lengths to make sure they were ceremonially clean at all times. They went to great pains to make sure that outwardly they were clean, but there was a problem. They completely ignored what they were like on the inside. Outwardly they looked as saintly as can be, but inwardly they were as full of corruption and greed as any sinner.
They were nothing more than whitewashed tombs. Their appearance was beautiful to see, but inwardly they were as unclean as a tomb filled with corpses. Outwardly they looked like they were the pillars of righteousness. But it was just an act. That wasn’t who they were, that was just who they appeared to be.
One of the easiest traps for us to fall into is the trap of appearances. When we fall into this trap we do all that we can to appear righteous. We do all that we can to appear committed to Christ. We do all that we can to appear to be faithful and godly. But when you get below the surface you find that’s all it is, an appearance. It’s not really who we are. It’s just who we appear to be. When you get into the Bible you find that God isn’t as concerned about what we appear to be, as much as He is concerned about what we truly are.
God doesn’t want us to appear to be righteous. He wants us to truly be righteous.
God doesn’t want us to appear to be devoted to Him. He wants us to truly be devoted to Him.
God doesn’t want us to appear to be like Jesus. He wants us to truly be like Jesus.
God didn’t save us to appear to be anything. He saved us so that we could truly be something new.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NKJV)
Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy. Ephesians 4:23-24 (NLT)
God didn’t save you to appear different. He saved you so that you could genuinely be different. Since this is the case, never settle for appearing different. Never settle for appearing righteous. Never settle for appearing devoted to Christ. Never settle for appearing anything. Appearances are deceiving and appearances are useless. What matters is what we truly are, not what we appear to be. Genuinely be what God saved you to be.
Think about in Psalm 101 where David said, “I will lead a life of integrity in my own home.” What impact do you think it has on our kids when we do all kinds of things to keep up appearances and yet do nothing because of what we truly are?
The righteous man walks in his integrity; His children are blessed after him. Proverbs 20:7 (NKJV)
There is great power in integrity to influence our children to truly be what God wants them to be. One of the things I realized early on as a dad and a pastor is that what I am at home will influence my children far greater than anything I say in church.
Day in and day out they will see if I am honest or if I appear honest. Day in and day out they will see if I am only worried about right actions or if I’m also working on right attitudes. Day in and day out they will see if I appear to be a man of God or if I truly am a man of God. And what they see in me will influence what they become. Refuse to fall into the trap of focusing on appearances. To be a man or woman of integrity you must genuinely be who you appear to be.