Last night, my son made chocolate chip cookies. My, are they GOOD!!! One of the best surprises was that he actually cleaned up after himself!
Ok, well, "cleaned-up" is relative. To some people, there was still a bit more to clean. But, for him - it was a huge step in the right direction.
This morning, as I was emptying the dish strainer, I came across the mixing bowl he had used. The inside was clean enough, but the outside still had dried cookie dough and had that scummy look and feel to it. Obviously, it had to be washed again.
While I was re-washing the mixing bowl, I began to think. Why was I washing it? The INSIDE was clean. It was just the OUTSIDE that was dirty. We don't use the outside, so I should only be concerned with what is on the inside of the bowl. So, I stopped cleaning it and put the bowl away. What a waste of time to be so picky.
You don't think I did that? Why not? Wouldn't you? It's just the outside. It's what's inside that counts and that was clean.
Isn't that how most Christians today think? The oft quoted verse, "Man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart" is often used to defend a person's "right" to dress and look anyway he/she wants to look. It only matters what is in the heart.
Like the bowl, a Christian may have a pure heart that loves the Lord and desires to serve Him. Yet, on the outside, he looks just like the unclean vessels around him. The average person would not be able to pick him out of a crowd as he looks just like the crowd. On closer inspection, one sees that he is clean and different...on the inside. Can he be used? Of course. But does God get that same sick feeling using him as we would get when using a bowl that's clean on the inside but still carrying last night's food remnants on the outside?
Why did I opt to clean the bowl? Because I knew with the bowl clean on the inside AND the outside, I would get optimal results in my next batch of cookies. I would not risk dirtying any other dish it touched. In order for God to get optimal results from me, I must be clean inside and out. I must stand out from the pile of dirty dishes and be sparkling clean. If I am being used effectively by God, I AM touching other dirty vessels. I must allow Him to wash me with the water of His Word daily if I am indeed being used daily. And, I must keep my eyes open to make sure that my outside isn't being changed to look like those around me. Why would a clean dish want to look like a dirty dish? If I would not use the ungodly as a model for my inside, why would I use them for a model for my outward appearance?
The outside DOES matter to God. Does he use us without hesitation or does he have to close His eyes when He reaches for us because of our dirty exterior? Clean your vessel - inside and outside.
Oh, and I DID re-wash the bowl completely. :)