Pastor Joshua West
Worship Pastor, Shiloh Community Church
For those of you who don’t know, I love a good mango. I will let them sit on the counter until their perfectly ripe before I put them in the refrigerator to get just the right cold temperature. Of course, I won’t settle for under-ripe, refrigerated mangos or over ripe, room temperature mangos. So, I wait. I will wait patiently, sometimes for days, until my mangos reach maximum deliciousness. You have to understand, by this time in my life, after consuming an exorbitant amount of these heaven-sent fruits, I consider myself a seasoned mango connoisseur and I don’t have time to waste eating anything less than a perfect mango. Everyone in my family knows this about me. Everyone knows that once my mangos are sitting in the fridge, they have become the forbidden fruit.
Last week, it was that time. Time to consume that perfectly ripe, refrigerated mango that I had been keeping a close eye on for an entire week. However, I have a new dilemma. Those of you who have little children may know that, for some reason, your kids always (only) want the food on your plate. Does that happen to anyone else? My son can have the exact same food on his plate, but he will want to eat my food off my plate. So, I tried to come up with a plan.
Thankfully, there was another mango, next to my perfect mango in the fridge, that was less than perfect. It was slightly discolored, a little wrinkled on the outside, probably a bit over ripe. I thought, “He’s too young to value a flawless mango, I’ll cut this one up for him and he will love it!” (Okay, yes. I gave my son the wrinkly mango! Don’t judge me! 🙂 To my surprise, when I cut into this discolored, wrinkled, over-ripe looking mango, it was ripe, and juicy, and perfectly delicious! I cut up this mango for my son and thought, “Man! If the ugly mango is this amazing, I can’t imagine how good my mango is going to be!”
I’ve never been more wrong! As my son was distracted chowing down on his fruit, I took the knife and fearlessly cut into my perfect mango, only to discover…horror of all horrors…MY mango was completely rotten inside! Totally rotten! Entirely unsalvageable! I couldn’t believe it. That perfectly ripe, refrigerated, delicious-looking fruit was actually brown, mushy, and nasty on the inside. Disappointment ensued.
Through this funny, little mango experience, I was reminded of a principle Jesus talks about very seriously in His Word. As Christians, it can be so easy to “do all the right Christian things”. . . we can go to church, volunteer to serve on Sunday, involve ourselves in all the Bible Studies and community groups, and support our over-seas missionaries. We can join a mission team to serve in another country, post Scripture verses on our Facebook pages, take meals to families in need, sing in the choir, and donate to the church food bank. We can pray for people and quote Bible verses and raise our hands in worship, but what do our lives look like aside from what people can see on the outside? When we are alone, in bed at night, what are the thoughts in our hearts? What do we laugh at when we’re at work? What kind of media do we fill our minds with? What kind of language do we use in the walls of our home? Everyone knows the person they see on Sunday morning, but when the doors are closed and no one is watching. . .who is that person?
Do our weekday lives match our Sunday lives?
Jesus talks very seriously to the Pharisees, who were a community of “separatists”, known for their self-righteous religion and pride. They were the “religious conservatives” of those days who were also Jesus’ chief persecutors. Jesus calls out their false acts of religion, because he saw below surface level. He saw their hearts and cried out:
“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. So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” Matthew 23:27-28
Today, if you are quietly struggling with a deep-rooted sin, and fearful that you might not be seen as a “good Christian” anymore if you were to seek help or accountability, I’m here to encourage you . . . it’s OKAY. It’s okay to not be perfect. It’s okay to struggle. It’s okay to experience temptation. It’s okay to not look like you have your life 100% together 24/7.
However, it is not okay to continue living a life of habitual sin and grow complacent in our sin because we are afraid of not appearing “perfect” on the outside.
Whether we want to believe it or not, Psalm 139:1 reminds us that our hearts have been searched by God and we are known. We are already fully known. Our lives and our motives are no secret to God. Proverbs 16:2 reminds us, “All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the spirit.” Our motives, our sin, our deepest fears are already exposed to Jesus, so why continue to hide behind a false mask of perfection?
Today, it’s time to get right before God. It’s time to confess our sins to one another (James 5:16), and be honest with ourselves, the people in our lives, and before God. We’re not hiding anything from the Lord anyway. Don’t just be a beautiful mango on the outside, because it doesn’t matter how wonderful you appear on the outside if your heart is full of hidden sin and rottenness. Allow the Lord to transform your heart so your genuine love for the things of God flows from the inside out!
“But the LORD said to Samuel, ‘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 Samuel 16:7