Inside Out

Staring at the pile of clothes that were strewn about the guest room, I found myself asking the question, “Did I really make such a mess yesterday morning?” That’s crazy! I had even tried to prepare the night before by laying out two possible outfits for Easter Sunday. Unfortunately, my plan didn't come together the next morning. One outfit looked too sloppy and the other just didn’t look quite right. So, a whirlwind of frantic outfit swapping ensued. Gratefully, I eventually found something presentable that felt – and looked - right for the day. Wardrobe crisis averted!

As I now hung up the discarded clothing, I pondered how easy it is to get caught up in one’s appearance – especially on Sundays or for special events. Typically, I’m not real fussy about what I look like. I do have favorite clothes, and I’m always glad when I have a good hair day. But my Sunday morning routine is pretty simple. Teeth clean, check. Slip not showing, check. Hair brushed, check. Earrings on, check. Oh, and double check that those ‘hanger helper’ strings aren’t hanging out somewhere, check!

Taking time to dress appropriately for the day’s events as well as freshening up what God has given us to work with is fine. However, if we’re not careful, we can easily fall into the temptation of becoming a bit too self-conscious of our appearance. It is at those moments that I have to remind myself that my outward appearance doesn’t really matter. What is important is how I look on the inside.

I’d like to think that I’m continuously working on my inner self, seeking to rid my heart of sin and growing deeper in my walk with Christ. But, when do I really take the time to look at my inward reflection? I’m afraid that my soul-searching is often nothing more than a quick glance in that internal mirror. And when I do take the time to look closer, do I tend to position myself to my best advantage and think “Now that’s pretty good.”? Or, do I go to the other extreme and only see my ‘problem areas’ and can’t help but focus on all the negatives. Hiding from the truth may be the easy way out, but it doesn’t do a thing to help the condition of our inner self.

Thankfully, cleaning up the inside doesn't have to be any harder than cleaning up the outside. Healthy questions to consider on a regular basis are pretty simple. Have I taken the time to rid myself of sinful thoughts and attitudes today? When is the last time that I asked for forgiveness? If I was able to look into a mirror and see my inner reflection, what would I see? Is my heart clean before God and others?

A couple great Scriptures that can help each of us go beyond our outer appearance and focus instead on our inner condition are found in Luke 11:39-41 and Matthew 23:27-28. In both passages, Jesus is talking with the Pharisees and challenges them to not only clean up the outside, but to also clean up the inside.

‘Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.’

“Then the Lord said to him, ‘Now then, you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. You foolish people! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also? But now as for what is inside you - be generous to the poor, and everything will be clean for you.’”

These passages hit hard on getting our priorities straight. It is good – and proper – to clean our bodies and to even enjoy a nice outer appearance, but not at the expense of our inner beauty. How we look and what people think of our appearance has no lasting value. How we live and exhibit the love of God at work in our lives is the key to a truly beautiful reflection.

If you'd like to see how clean your heart is, first off, pray and ask God to show you the areas that need work. Areas of "hypocrisy, greed and wickedness." Next, check out a great reflective resource entitled “Spring Cleaning Our Messy Hearts” by Shana Schutte. It's available online at

Wouldn't it be great if the next time each of us looked into the mirror on a Sunday morning, we knew that we had taken as much time to work on our inner beauty that week as we had on our outward appearance? 



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