As a young preacher, I had a dinner with my father that was anything but fun.
I had preached at a church that broadcast their Sunday sermons on the radio. My dad listened and was not pleased.
The next day, he took me out to dinner and spent nearly two hours telling me all the ways that the sermon was bad.
In my youthful self-righteousness I became angry with my father. I didn’t tell him how angry I was, because that wasn’t done in our family, but I was very angry just the same.
A day or so later, God began to confront me over what my dad said. He let me know that he was right and I was in the wrong.
Even though I hated what happened in the moment, the meal was one of the most positive turning points in my ministry. It was the best gift a loving father could have given his son.
A Tough Meal with Jesus
There is no doubt that my father loved me and wished the best for me and my work. The words of Jesus to the Pharisees need to be viewed in the same light.
In the Bible passages we will study today and tomorrow, we will explore his efforts to help religious leaders to live and serve to the fullest.
— Luke 11.37-40 – While he was speaking, a Pharisee invited him to dine with him; so he went in and took his place at the table.
The Pharisee was amazed to see that he did not first wash before dinner.
Then the Lord said to him, “Now you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness.
“You fools! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also?
“So give for alms those things that are within; and see, everything will be clean for you.”
I spoke with Pastor Jake Taylor of Maywood Baptist Church today. He and I talked about a central theme he emphasizes over and over.
Jake is passionate that Maywood people have a vibrant spiritual life. His emphasis is in keeping with Jesus’ counsel to the religious leaders.
The inside condition of humans will determine outward behavior. His counsel is to make sure the inside is aligned with God’s agenda for our lives.
A Call for Self-Examination
Like the dinner with my father, Jesus had several agenda items he wanted the religious leaders to consider. We should use his words to examine ourselves.
— Luke 11.42-44 – “But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and herbs of all kinds, and neglect justice and the love of God; it is these you ought to have practiced, without neglecting the others.
“Woe to you Pharisees! For you love to have the seat of honor in the synagogues and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces.
“Woe to you! For you are like unmarked graves, and people walk over them without realizing it.”
(1) The priest and Levite who passed the man who had been robbed in the Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10.25-37) most likely observed the tithing requirements.
What they lacked was the kind of love that comes from a vibrant relationship with God.
As we read these verses, let’s ask the Lord to help us examine our inside condition.
— What can we do to deepen our love for God?
— How can we best promote the cause of justice?
(2) How much of our religious activity is motivated by a desire to be seen and respected by others?
As a religious leader, I know how tempting it is to serve God for the applause of the public. Jesus’ words have frequently resonated in my mind.
Let’s take our “spiritual temperature.” How will you answer?
— If people stopped thanking me for my ministry, would I continue to do it?
— Am I willing to serve Jesus in ways that go unnoticed, like the church nursery or behind the scenes areas of service?
— Am I content to pray in secret (Matthew 6.6), knowing that God hears and answers those kind of prayers?
(3) What is the real state of my inner self? Do I appear to be alive, but my inside condition is barren?
Jesus spoke to the church of Sardis, “I know your works; you have a name of being alive, but you are dead”
“Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is on the point of death, for I have not found your works perfect in the sight of my God” (Revelation 3.1-2).
What Jesus said to the church also applies to the individual.
Let’s get serious with ourselves and ask the Lord to reveal to us the state of our spiritual life. Here is one question that deserves serious consideration.
— If a spiritual person is one who is activated, captivated, and motivated by the Holy Spirit, how much does the Spirit affect the way I live?
Rudy Ross and I produce a video that corresponds to the blog. Rudy provides insights that are not covered in the blog. Please take a few minutes to view it.
The video is on the Bob Spradling YouTube channel.
Please email your prayer request to firstname.lastname@example.org or private message me on Facebook. The Maywood prayer team will pray for you.