While Jesus was speaking, a Pharisee asked him to dine with him, so he went in and reclined at table. The Pharisee was astonished to see that he did not first wash before dinner. 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."I never noticed the last part of this where Jesus tells the Pharisees to "give as alms those things that are within, and behold, everything is clean for you."
The Pharisees were masters of outer holiness--observing the letter of the law so that everyone could see. I can be a master of the easily seen part of Christianity as well (at least most of the time): I read my Bible, I pray, I go to church. I refrain from cursing, I don't steal, I sponsor a child in a developing nation, I go on mission trips. . . Yet all of these outer acts I can, and have, done while harboring jealousy, anxiety, anger, and disbelief.
What does Jesus want from me in those moments? He doesn't only want my outward obedience (which, though I am good at certain areas, is far from perfect as well). Jesus never lets me take the easy way. It is easier for me to grit my teeth and choose rightly than for me to open up my heart to Him and offer to Him my "alms" of ugliness. Yet He says that if I do that, if I ask Him to help me honestly examine my heart and ask Him to cleanse me of my unrighteousness, THEN I will be clean.
I often believe that Jesus doesn't want to see the real me, the yucky, icky, ugly parts of my heart. Yet, He died to save me from those parts, and to receive His grace fully, I need to be emptied of all of it, from the inside out. Seventh Day Slumber has a song related to this, which we sang at church today (God is always working, eh?):
YouTube - Seventh Day Slumber - from the inside out (lyrics)