A Mess on the Inside
"I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith." Ephesians 3:16-17a (NIV)
Making my tidy-up rounds one morning, I walked into my son’s room with hands wrapped around a stack of clean towels. My pace slowed as I picked my way through the maze on his floor. I wove around piles of clothes, an empty shoebox and exercise equipment, barely avoiding stubbing my toe on a barbell.
Sighing with exasperation, I threw open the curtains to let light shine into the room, and I gazed into the yard. Instantly, a piercing insight beamed into my heart like the rays flooding through the window.
Just the week before, my family had worked feverishly to ready our home for company. The windows gleamed, the sidewalk was mildew-free and green grass neatly carpeted the yard. Flowers graced the front porch. An arrangement hung on the door, and everything was in its place. I loved how well-kept our home looked.
Our company had departed, but the outside of our home still looked spiffy. I opened my son’s curtains to further the just-so appearance for the world to see, but there was a much different view from where I now stood.
Shiny on the outside. A mess on the inside.
Goodness gracious. How often could the same phrases be applied to me? I’ve become adept at polishing up the outside. Make-up, hair, jewelry, clothes and cute shoes go a long way in gussying up a girl. Following the rules, fitting in and creating just the right image help me convince others I’ve got it all together. Volunteering, smiling and measuring my words may even make me seem godly.
But what if my "house" could be turned inside out as easily as a t-shirt? What if the world saw my inner clutter?
What if people viewed my thoughts, emotions and spiritual condition instead of my carefully constructed shell? What then?
Here’s the truth: There’s One who views us like no other. He sees us from the inside out all the time. God’s Word tells us, "The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart" (I Samuel 16:7b, NIV).
While the world around us obsesses with external makeovers, God longs to begin His work on the inside.
God does His beautifying work from the inside out.
Our key verse tells us He wants to strengthen our inner being with the power of His Spirit and out of His glorious riches. What an adorning that will be! When God is the One at work in us and when we join Him by changing our focus from external perfection to His internal perfecting, our beauty will come from our truest, God-created self.
Trying harder, doing more or behaving better isn’t what we need. Those are the things we do to try to create perfection, shining ourselves up on the outside. Jesus’ clean-up, His perfecting process, isn’t about our work. It’s about taking one step of faith and asking Him to dwell in our hearts.
Only then can Jesus fill us up on the inside with His strength, power, love and light. Only then will our outside radiate with the beauty of what’s within.
Lord, please forgive me for focusing too much on the externals of my life. I invite You to dwell in my heart so You can do a work in me from the inside out. You are beautiful, and I want to be like You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Ephesians 3:17b-19, "And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge — that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God." (NIV)
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
What are some of the externals (clothes, appearance, "good behavior," popularity, material possessions) that you’ve used to shape others’ perception of you? What internal mess are you hiding?
Write a prayer asking Jesus to dwell in your heart, strengthening and straightening your inner being.