Matthew 23:23-26: “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. 24 You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel. 25 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.
Here is something the Pharisees loved to do. They loved to major in the minors. They took great pride in counting their tiny garden seeds and tithing them, but failed to show mercy to those in need. They washed their cups and dishes lest anything unclean enter their bodies, but they failed to see the dirt and filth that filled their hearts.
Can we apply this to ourselves? When you see someone who is caught in a sin, do not judge them so quickly. Have compassion on them instead. There is often a reason and a story behind what they are doing. Did they grow up in a dysfunctional home? Has some tragedy in their life affected them? I am not saying we should make excuses for people, but be compassionate. Reach out to them in love and mercy and lead them to Jesus.
And if you want to gain a compassionate perspective on others, then just look at your own life from the inside out. Maybe your life looks squeaky clean on the outside, but your heart is not. Jesus said that out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, theft, false witness and blasphemy. There is no sin that we have not committed in our heart at some time or other. If your daily prayer is, “God be merciful to me, a sinner,” then your heart will also be filled with compassion for others. So when you are tempted to judge others from the outside, remember to look at your inside first.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, I have no reason to be boastful and proud about myself when I look at myself from the inside out. Forgive me for the sins of my heart. Create a clean heart and a new spirit within me, a heart that is filled with love for your and for my neighbor, too. Amen.