September 04, 2015

Appearing Righteous

When I do an interview I ask questions that help draw out the character and personality of the interviewee. However, because I write only what they tell me, the article is based on how they view themselves. Recently a reader said of one article, “Oh that person sounds like someone I’d like to know…Right?” I had to laugh because my experience with the subject did not match his perception on himself. I’m reminded of the Lord’s critique of the Pharisees and teachers of the law. “You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness” (Matt 23:27b-28 NIV).

1 comment:

Steve Corey said...


-----We know what’s on the outside. The old adage says you can tell a man by his trash. I am sure that is by both the trash he treasures and the trash he throws away. But stuff is just things. Things are interesting to ponder. My ‘84 Bronco is just a thing. It has no personality beyond the quirky ways it runs. It has no character in itself. All its character comes from the uses I put it to and the feelings I have regarding it. Everything else I own is that way, too. If there are any meanings and interconnection to it all, they are found in my mind only. My step-daughter, Natasha, moved into a home abandoned by an older man upon his death. So the home was full of his stuff. How much things are just things devoid of meaning without their owner’s mind becomes apparent when dealing with a dead man’s mountain of wares and goods. The reality of this was underscored when I picked up a barely interesting book from the dead man’s abandoned pile and found in it a twenty year old photo of one of my clients from another town. The picture, the book it was placed in, and the mountain of junk instantly took on a tiny sense of relationship because of the meaning to me of what I saw in that picture.
-----Words and actions are the same way, but they are profoundly more tricky, because everyone possesses a common set of them routinely used to the point that each person has within himself a somewhat unique but rather similar set of meanings about them. Each meaning is an emotional/intellectual complex of memories from its person’s education, experience, and shear imagination regarding a word or action and all of the interconnections it has had with the other elements of his life. Same with concepts, attitudes, and feelings. But all of these complex meanings are piled up inside one person only. Sure, the next person also has such complexes of meanings, too. But they vary in ways that can often be quite substantial. The greatest majority of arguments and misunderstandings arises from the fact that one word or event or thing means two different things to two different people. The materials of our interrelationships are the things, both tangible and intangible, of our exteriors. They are set in what they are, but we would be surprised at the variances in most meanings of a relationship as held by its two people. Each one of us alone can only begin to understand and fathom the complexities of his interior. Our “beginnings” of understandings about what is inside other folks comes only from what might be considered a similarity to forensic investigation. All we can do is observe, consider evidence, and draw conclusions. That's not much! Basic elements of what’s inside someone else can be discovered, but the person’s intricate complexities are locked away inside what is meant by “individual”.
-----Thus Paul writes, “Let every one be fully convinced in his own mind.” (Rom 14:5b) So building one another up is more important than educating one another. And our purposes are found in how the lives of others are influenced and elevated by the good things we do, rather than controlled and transformed by instruction and demand. The depths of what things mean, even words, are found sequestered inside the vaults of individual hearts, where only that heart and the Lord can fully appreciate (or be loathed by) them. To honor one another is to give one another space for those inner things to be what they mean to the ones in whom they’re meaning is. This is the basic process of the mind of Christ emerging from honor for Christ’s Father and His Word. Anything else involves one degree or more of whitewash.

Love you all,
Steve Corey