Friday, December 27, 2013

The Aftermath

"you are like whitewashed tombs
which indeed appear beautiful outwardly..."
Matthew 23:37

I was so proud of myself.  Well, not so proud, I guess.  But proud. 

We were gone for twelve hours yesterday, and of course the one thing we did do, while we were home, is make a giant mess in the living room.  Boxes, bags, tissue paper etc.  Of course, much of it was fairly neatly stacked, each of us having made a pile of our wrapping paraphernalia.  The crumpled wrapping paper was all in a hefty bag over in the corner, but it was still there, in the living room.

I was the first one up today, the day after Christmas.  The rest of my family still slept, exhausted from a busy but fun day of gifts and eating and family.  I came out in the living room, and I cleaned.  I threw out the trash, and separated the gift boxes from the gift bags so I can put them all back in the cupboard in the garage.  I folded all the tissue paper and put it back in the box I keep it in.  I picked up a few tags that had been cut off of new clothes.  I folded up the blankets we had snuggled under yesterday morning while opening presents. 

{I know; it's Southern California.  It was not so cold we had to turn the heater on, but it was cold enough that a couple of us needed blankets.}

And the room looks good.  Still a little disheveled ~ throw pillows not quite in place, and the stockings still need to be re-hung so they'll look nice for the few days until we pack up all the Christmas decor.  But overall it's clean and neat.  And so I was feeling good about it. 

And then, a little while later, I walked out of the room and headed to my bedroom, and I happened to glance behind my chair.  And I saw a pile of boxes and tissue that I'd put back there during the opening.  I'd been getting it out of the way at the time I put it there, but then I'd forgotten about it.  Out of sight, out of mind, right?

Without realizing it, I found myself a whitewashed tomb.  Or maybe ~ I shudder to think ~ I've been one all along.  Whitewashed tombs are dangerous.  They look nice and clean on the outside, but they are still tombs, and inside are the bones that are unclean.  This is what Jesus was warning the Jews about.   Being clean on the outside, but unclean inwardly.  That's why they're dangerous ~ not only to the one who is a whitewashed tomb, but to everyone who interacts with them, thinking they're safe, but not knowing they are not what they appear.

The lesson is twofold ~ first to be aware of ourselves.  Yes, I cleaned the boxes and tissue in the living room, but I didn't search all parts.  I wasn't thorough.  This applies to my heart, mind and soul, too.  When I seek to clean up my life, I need to look at all parts, not just the ones other people see.

But also we need to be wary of others, that we think are safe.  Like the Pharisees.  They knew so much about the Law and the Word, they certainly seemed like people to be emulated.  But they had mutated the Law ~ adding and interpreting it, confusing and burdening the Jews.  Not all who write or teach (or blog) about the Bible are to be heeded.  Learn for yourself what His Word says, and pray for understanding when you read and study. 

Clean inside, clean outside, learning and growing.  Little by little.  Becoming ever more like Him.

~ "distinguish between the unclean and the clean" ~
Leviticus 11:47

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