I have had the opportunity to speak to hundreds of people over the past twenty years. I think I've come to one major conclusion about people's lives: Way down deep, people are different than what they appear to be on the outside. My conviction is that a quality of life is available to each of us that we know little about. It seems to me that if our Lord meant what he said when he talked about wanting to give us an abundant life, then we have some hard thinking to do. There are realities deep in people's soulswhere nobody else seesthat need to be looked at carefully.
I want to read one verse that our Lord spoke in the book of Matthew. In Matthew 23, Jesus was speaking to a group of people who specialized in looking good on the outside. They were people whose lives appeared to be doing fineno problems. They were religious people who never missed church. Our Lord looked at them and said, "You are like whitewashed tombs. You look beautiful on the outside, but on the inside are full of dead men's bones and everything unclean." His advice to the Pharisees in Matthew 23:26 was this: "First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean."
That's the topic I want to talk about. What does it mean to take an inside look to find the kind of joy and reality our Lord wants us to know in our lives?
I was talking with a 29-year-old woman recently. She told me how she was changing and how happy she was that her life was going well. She shared all the victories and good things. In the course of our conversation over lunch, she said she was glad to be alive as a person. Things were going her way for the first time, in a long time. She was a happy person. But as I listened, it became ...