The devil comes dressed as an angel of light (2 Cor. 11.14), but don’t go on the date ‘til you’ve considered his resume. We all know a little of what it means to gloss up - to look our best our for certain situations. For many settings this is completely appropriate. You don’t dress the same for a banquet as you do for movie night at home. Obviously.
But our dress gets dangerous when it’s hiding something.
Integrity is a theme of biblical proportions. One definition of integrity is “being whole and undivided.” Integrity isn’t measured by your best moments. It’s measured by all your moments. This means that the ultimate issue is the state of your heart.
Even the prophet Samuel had to be reminded of the importance of the inner heart rather than outer appearance. When searching for the next king Samuel was greatly impressed by appearances of height and strength. God set things straight by declaring, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” (1 Sam 16.7)
The heart is where the Lord is looking, and that’s where we ought to be focusing our attention as well. Jesus continually dropped this reality on the church-folk of His day. When they were uptight about His hygene before lunch, and He went after their hearts. He insisted, “But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. (Matthew 15.18-19)”
Later it will come to cursing. That’s what Jesus inevitably gives to the fakes. He proclaims,
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean.
27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people's bones and all uncleanness. 28 So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. (Matthew 23.25-28)
This hurts. On the outside, things can look clean and white, meticulously cared for. We’re trying so hard to make sure everyone knows we’ve been churchy. But inside? A tomb of filth.
So who are you, really? How’s your heart? Only the Lord knows that perfectly. But there is a sign, a map, a hint, a clue. We find it in 1 Timothy, where Paul is giving Timothy the knowledge he needs to make sure he’s getting leaders of true heart. He writes,
2 Therefore an overseer must be… above reproach, the husband of one wife… 4 He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, 5 for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God's church?
Let deacons each be the husband of one wife, managing their children and their own households well. 13 For those who serve well as deacons gain a good standing for themselves and also great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus. (1 Timothy 3.1-13)
Where does one look to check for integrity? One key place to look is at home. You are who you truly are at home. The health of your heart is revealed in your closest relationships. It’s the season for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day…so how’s your heart at home?
If there were a situation where your husband, your wife, your son, your daughter, your closest friend, could and would speak honestly, what might that testimony reveal about your heart? Would there be found, not perfect of course, but genuine integrity? Or does your churchy best hide a tomb?
The Lord is looking at your heart. Jesus said this of His coming:
19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. 21 But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.” (John 3.19-21)
A lack of integrity, a churched-up gloss betrayed by hell at home, reveals a resistance to the light. We’ve got those deeds lurking at home – explosions of rage, passive rejection, poisonous words, horrid habits – and, we think, “we must not have those exposed!” So we will not come to the light we so desperately need.
O my friends, this heart probing is painful, but it is about love. Our Lord graciously invites us to the light we so desperately need.
If this is speaking to you personally, Jesus invites you to come to the light. Come to Him. He exclaims, “I am the light of the world!” (John 14.12) He is eager to free us from our fake! And make us free indeed (John 14.36).
How does one go about this? I’ve three ideas:
1) Go to Jesus. Honestly confess in detail. Honestly repent in detail. And put all your hope on the Gospel. He has died as your substitute, for your cleansing, and to enable your transformation. Be forgiven, loved, and changed!
2) Go to those you’ve sinned against. Honestly confess in detail. Honestly repent in detail. Be reconciled!
3) Be accountable. We need one another. There are no Christians who are both maverick and thriving. Find one trustworthy, and honestly share your struggles, inviting confrontation and encouragement in the Gospel.
It’s hard, no doubt. But it’s time for some spring cleaning. There corpses in the corners of hearts. Let’s go to Jesus, the One who is looking at our hearts, and have Him turn on the light, that our hearts might beat of Him at home.