Isn’t this a pretty image of an inspirational cup full of tea proclaiming a sweet message of loving kindness? I don’t usually drink tea, but this particular herbal tea was much needed for its special ingredient. I’m more of a Jesus and coffee kind of girl, thus the sign on my desk.
As I gazed out the window between Quickbooks entries, this image made me pause for a moment. What if there wasn’t tea in this pretty cup? What if there was witch’s brew (whatever that is) or straight vodka on a Tuesday morning? Hmmm. What if the appearance on the outside doesn’t quite match what’s on the inside?
Sincerity means that the appearance and the reality are exactly the same. OSWALD CHAMBERS
What if your neighbor down the street with five kids who all look like they stepped out of a Vineyard Vines catalogue secretly suffers from anxiety attacks?
What if the woman at church who is always dressed to impress has a husband who is cheating on her?
What if the man at Bible study who leads, and shepherds, and proclaims the love of God is addicted to pornography?
What if that neighbor or woman or man is you?
Jesus said, “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are filthy—full of greed and self-indulgence! You blind Pharisee! First wash the inside of the cup and the dish, and then the outside will become clean, too.” (Matthew 23:25-26 NLT)
Stern words of Kingdom kindness. In fact hypocrite comes from a Greek word meaning actor or imposter. Jesus isn’t calling masked men and women forward in faith, He’s calling unmasked beautifully broken souls. We must be changed from the inside out for the outside to become sincere.
And let us not misinterpret His command. In our own power we may be able to clean up the outside of our cups, but we are powerless to clean the inside of our cups, or lives. Though we try, flesh inevitably fails. Only the precious blood of the Messiah washes us clean from the inside out.
It is Amazing Grace offered at the cross that saves a wretch like me, and you, and him, and her.
Do you want to live out a sincere faith? Are your appearance and your reality exactly the same? What’s in your cup? What do you struggle with that you don’t want anyone to see?
Whatever it is, Jesus sees. He knows what’s in your cup. He’s calling you to take off your mask, and pour out your cup as a drink offering for His glory. Only He can fill your cup with the special ingredient of His Holy Spirit and a sincere faith. Only He can make your appearance and your reality the same, a sincere saint, saved by nothing but the blood of Jesus.