Lord, Cleanse My Cup
On Tuesday of Holy Week, Jesus traveled from Bethany to Jerusalem, spending time in the Temple teaching. He also was engaged by the religious leaders who wanted to trap him and discredit him. His dialogue with them led to a harsh admonishment of their hypocrisy (see Matthew 23) capped off with the accusation – “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.” Matthew 23:25.
There are two ways to read this:
1. “Yea! Get’em Jesus!” There is a temptation to see this through the lens of Jesus giving it to all those mean, religious people out there somewhere.
2. “Lord, cleanse my cup.” The better response is to use this as an examination of our own hearts. Are any of these characteristics of hypocrisy alive in me?
Here is a personal list of questions and prayers using Jesus’ admonitions against the religious leader, as a means of personal self-examination. Let’s examine and rid ourselves of the hypocrisy that Jesus decried during Holy Week:
- They don’t practice what they teach (v. 3). Is my life consistent with my words and my profession of faith?
- They burden people rather than bless people (v. 4). Do I give grace or guilt in my relationships with others?
- They do things to be noticed by others, not to be obedient to God (v. 5-7). Who is the intended audience of my life? Am I thinking through actions with God or others in mind?
- They love personal recognition more than glory for God (v. 8-12). Does my title, place, or position matter more to me than the glory God receives?
- They believe themselves to be front doors to the kingdom, rather than servants leading and pointing the way to it. (v. 13). Do I project a place of servant-hood or superiority in sharing the gospel?
- They convert people to religion and not to the kingdom of God (v. 15). Am I making more church people or am I making disciples of Jesus?
- They emphasize the minor and inconsequential while overlooking the important and necessary (v. 16-24). Does my preferences and cultural lenses color how I see people’s actions? Am I concerned first with the weighty matters of the heart, instead of the outward appearances?
- They make a great show on the outside, but the inside – the heart – is a mess in God’s sight (v. 25-28). Am I more concerned with how things look on the outside, than how things are on the inside?
Praying for God to rid my life of hypocrisy:
Lord, let my life and my words be consistent.
Lord, help me lead with grace, not guilt in all my relationships.
Lord, you are the only audience that matters. I want to be obedient. I’ll trust you to show others what you want them to see in my life.
Lord, to your name be the glory. Let the desire for title and position be far from my heart.
Lord, the Kingdom is yours. You’ve opened the way through your Son. It’s your kingdom to fill. Help me always remember that I’m a simple servant, pointing everyone, everywhere to your way.
Lord, let me not aim to make church people, but to make disciples of Jesus as you have commanded.
Lord, help me to be consistent. Don’t let my personal preferences or cultural lenses be more important than your heart and desires for people.
Lord, cleanse my cup. I want that part that only you can see to be clean and beautiful. Only you can do this work. Do it in me.