We use our dishwasher a lot. With a house of five and the speed of our schedules it’s just easier to throw the dishes in the dishwasher and let technology help us out a bit. Sometimes automating a task is super helpful. But there’s a small problem. Every once in a while we overfill the dishwasher and stack one bowl on top of another of block the arm of the dishwasher from spinning. When this happens the dishes don’t get cleaned all the way. Often the outside of the bowl will be clean but the inside remains dirty.
Normally we’ll catch it when we unload and put the dishes away but every once in a while we’re in a hurry and one sneaks past us. Not too long ago I grabbed one of these bowls out of the dishwasher. The outside was clean as could be. But it didn’t take long before I realized the inside of the bowl had some crusty substance burned in from the heat of the dishwasher. My reaction? Gross! What’s in the bowl?!
It’s not just the dishwasher that leaves things half clean though. The Bible warns against this whole dirty bowl way of living. In Matthew 23, Jesus is talking to a group of men known as Pharisees. They were leaders in the church who like to tell other people what to do but not apply the same rules to themselves. Additionally, they would do all sorts of big things so people would think they were good and moral and holy. But on the inside they were a mess!
This is where the whole clean bowl, dirty bowl scenario comes into play. These pharisees were praying out loud so everyone woudl hear them but on the inside, their hearts weren’t really meaning any of what they said. They would tell everyone how to do good things and that worship was important and how the sacrifices to God were necessary but these words didn’t mean anything to them personally. They were clean on the outside but on the inside they were a mess.
This is how many Christians are today. They say all the right things and act in many of the right ways, but something on the inside is missing. When we do all the right things to be seen by others but our hearts are far from God then we have this dirty bowl condition. We wear cross necklaces and other jewelry. We put on Jesus shirts, yet our hearts are far from God.
We sing praises to God on Sunday but our friend choices and our selection of tv shows on Netflix show something totally different. We talk about Christ with other Christians but our radio is tuned to stations that fill our lives with fear and terror and messages of evil through song and spoken word. We read books filled with vulgarity. We search for images of indecency. All the while leading people to think we’re following Jesus closely.
As followers of Jesus we struggle with the tension in the friends with whom we spend our time, the movies we watch and the events into which we pour our time. Does your life show that you have a clean life on the outside but at a closer look we find a dirty bowl kind of life?
When I pulled that bowl out of the cabinet, and after my initial shock lessened, I grabbed the soap and a clean washcloth and cleaned the inside of that bowl. We can do the same thing in our daily lives. We clean our lives not with a drop of Dawn, but with a constant pouring of God’s Word. So instead of showing the world a holier than thou kind of life, in the quiet moments of life soak up the truths of God’s word. Fill up on the promises of the Bible. When these truths become real to you, then your bowl will be clean on the inside as well as on the outside.
Go ahead! It’s time to get cleaning!