Matthew 23:26 “You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean.”
The day of reckoning was upon me: it was time for my quarterly visit to the dental hygienist! As I sat in the dentist chair with a paper bib hooked to my neck, I thought to myself: “Did I brush regularly enough? Did I floss thoroughly this morning?” Alas, it is too late for any of that now. The hygienist is here with a tray full of frightening instruments. I’m frozen in my chair, paralyzed by fear! Memories of all the treatment reminder cards I ignored come swirling back to be. O! If I could go back in time I’d heed every one of them if only to avoid what is about to happen! If only I had taken care of those cavities while they were tiny little problems, less painful and MUCH less expensive! But here I am now, with my mouth open wide, the instruments whirring in her hands, as she leans over me with a reassuring grin saying: “This might be a little uncomfortable…”
Okay, so I’m being a little melodramatic! But let’s face it; no one enjoys going to the dentist. Even when we know we have NO dental problems at all we avoid our regular check-ups. “What we don’t know won’t hurt us, right?!” Nothing could be further from the truth.
Spiritually we tend to error in the same fashion. O, we might be like the Pharisee of old making sure we’re reading our Bibles, studying, going to church, even working hard at controlling our temper, language etc. On the outside we look shiny and clean. But on the inside we’re full of spiritual cavities. The last thing we want to say to the Lord is: “Search me, O God, and try me.” We don’t want our deepest secrets exposed. We fear He will find the most grotesque evidence of our depravity and make us wear it on our heads like a “Dunce” cap while sitting us on a stool in front of the world for everyone to see. We think Him a cruel Master bearing instruments of torture to humiliate us, scorn us, and set us up as an example to others of utter spiritual failure. Nothing could be further from the truth.
There was a woman in Jesus’ time set-up as such an example; the woman caught in the act of adultery. But she was not set-up by Jesus. She was set-up by religious leaders who lay in wait to catch her in the act, as required by law, all for the purpose of publicly testing Jesus. Would He ignore her sin, thereby defying the law? Would He condemn her, thereby alienating mercy? He does neither. Instead, he stoops down to write something in the dusty ground and invites the one without sin to throw the first stone. Their inward, wicked, unrepentant hearts are exposed as one by one they leave without a word until none of their lynch-mob is left except the woman. To her, the openly exposed and repentant woman, He says: “Go, and from now on, sin no more.”
There were no harsh words for her. She was not made a specacle by our Lord or used by Him as a “case in point.” No, she was treated gently, mercifully, and her sins were forgiven. This is the manner of God. He is good and kind, merciful and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love (Ps 103:8). We need not fear His examination. We need not avoid His testing. In full assurance of His unfathomable love which He most thoroughly declared on the Cross of Calvary. We can trust Him with our entire heart. Allow Him to search the depths, expose the dross and purify us from within until our hearts shine in response the very reflection of our Savior Jesus Christ.
Psalm 139:23–24 Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!