25 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean. 27 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. 28 In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness. Matthew 23:25-28
Externally, the religious leaders had all the signs of piety and religious devotion. But they were proud and greedy, which was totally abhorrent to Jesus.
They looked good on the outside but were totally dead on the inside.
It was about as offensive as you could get; it still is. He was impugning their motives. These woes were building to a crescendo.
It’s actually pretty easy to fall into the trap of making a show of outward appearances over the inner life. That’s not to say that we should let it all hang out spiritually, but it’s closer to where we should be perhaps.
The key, of course, is to stay as close to God as you can as often as you can. While we’re here on earth we have pride-creek and greed-creep and wayward thoughts-creep (among others) that we have to contend with. The shorter accounts we keep and the more our mind is being transformed, the better off we’ll be.
Again, easier said than done, but certainly a worthy goal. I’m afraid we have to be reminded of this every day.
As the hymn writer wrote:
Prone to wander, Lord I feel it
Prone to leave the God I love.