January 6

Get Integrated in God

Psalm 51:6a Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts…

Matthew 23:27-28 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.”

Luke 11:39-41 And the Lord said to him, “Now you Pharisees cleanse the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. You fools! Did not he who made the outside make the inside also? But give as alms those things that are within, and behold, everything is clean for you.” (ESV)

It’s God’s desire that we are integrated, authentic and, for the lack of a better word, real. We read the New Testament scriptures above, and we are taken slightly aback at how hard Jesus came down on the hypocritical Pharisees. Yet more of us are like them than we would like to admit.

Many of us are not completely authentic but have something of an outward “face” going on. In some eastern cultures, it’s normal to have an outward, or public, personality, and then there is the real “him/her.” Some of us in Western cultures do the same thing, but for unrighteous, not cultural, reasons.

Many Christians are genuinely kind, pleasant, easy to be with, and outwardly gracious. Yet underneath they can be judgmental, suspicious, and rebellious—and be almost totally unaware of it. Most believers don’t want to be unkind to others, or rude, or divisive. Yet way down, there can almost be another us that is rarely let out to play, and may be almost locked away. The author has seen the nicest people who serve the Lord in outwardly exemplary ways who harbor the most incredible judgments against their Christian family and especially Christian leadership. And that’s just one example of the sin that lay beneath the godly-looking surface.

These folks would never rob a bank, commit adultery, or even cheat on their taxes. But one can almost hear the spiritual churning beneath. There is a gap between who they are on the outside, and what’s going on way down underneath. God’s plan for all of us is to bring whatever is underneath up to the outside. What is good needs to be expressed in greater measure, and what is not needs to be brought to the light for repentance, healing and change.

“[He desires] truth in the inward parts.” This is “Old Testament speak” for wanting us to be real through and through. It’s not just about stopping hypocritical behavior; we would all rather experience kind and gentle hypocritical behavior if the other option is anger, violence or cruelty. But God wants us to be real from the inside, where His Spirit dwells, to the outside, where people see and hear us. It takes a lifetime, but we can never stop the process and divide ourselves into two.

We are called to be gracious, kind, and loving to others. At the same time, we must let God continue to renew our inward parts until our hearts are cleansed, and what is expressed on the outside reflects the grace, wisdom and love He’s put within.

Prayer: Father, I want to be a completely integrated believer, having Your truth in the deepest parts of my mind and heart. Forgive my efforts to resist Your Spirit’s working. “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10).