Matthew 23:13-28

            Jesus is described in the Gospel of Matthew as gentle and meek.  He is compassionate and gracious, always revealing the true nature and character of God.  That, however, does not mean Jesus never said hard things to people.  In this Gospel lesson for today, Jesus took it to the scribes and Pharisees with a list of woes, or pronouncements of judgment.
            The point with Jesus is that the scribes and Pharisees were people who should have known better than to be only concerned with an outward religion and form of righteousness.  Nearly all scribes (people who carefully and tediously copied the Scriptures) were Pharisees (a Jewish sect that was concerned with knowing the Scriptures and carefully obeying them).  The problem was that these people knew every jot and tittle of the Old Testament, but they did not know the true heart of its message.
            It is vitally important to cultivate a rich inner life of spirituality.  The Bible is not just a book of information and stories and facts to cerebrally know; we must allow its contents and message to seep deep into our souls so that we have an emotionally and spiritually healthy Christianity.  God seeks to transform us from the inside-out.  If we only seek to know the Bible in order to make a show to others, then we fall under the same condemnation as the scribes and Pharisees. 
            A good spiritual practice to allow the Bible’s message to root itself in us is to keep a journal.  Journaling is a healthy and secret way of connecting with God through Holy Scripture.  When we take the time to carefully read a passage of the Bible, allow the Spirit to speak to us through it, and listen to what God would have us do because of it then the act of writing it all down helps to press grace and truth firmly in our souls.  In fact, a primary purpose of this daily blog is to assist you in that process of reflecting on Scripture each day.
            O God, help me to grow spiritually from the inside-out.  Develop within me purity of heart and righteousness of character so that genuine acts of mercy may spring from me.  In Jesus’ name I pray.  Amen.

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