Blessed… The Outside of the Pot

 “How terrible it will be for you legal experts and Pharisees! Hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and plate, but inside they are full of violence and pleasure seeking. 26 Blind Pharisee! First, clean the inside of the cup so that the outside of the cup will be clean too” (Matthew 23:25-26, Common English Bible).

I have mentioned before that I was very involved in Scouting when I was a kid. A kid in Scouting usually means a camping kid. I learned, sometimes the hard way, how to cook on an open fire, with a Dutch oven, or a reflector oven. I learned you can control the temperature in a Dutch oven with remarkable accuracy based on a number of coals placed under and on top of the oven. I learned how to do some pretty amazing things. I can cook bacon and eggs in a paper bag, boil water in a paper cup and I can make a full meal including bread and dessert with either a Dutch oven or a reflector oven.

Cooking was always the good duty roster spot. Gathering the firewood was a spot most of us didn’t mind too much. The one everybody ran from was having to do the dishes after the meal. I never liked doing the dishes at home, even with a dishwasher. I certainly didn’t want to wash dishes in a bucket with water hauled in and heated on an open fire.

The problem really wasn’t the inside of the dishes. That usually cleaned up fairly easily. The problem was the outside of the pots and pans. If you look at the picture above, you can see the black built up on the pot. It comes from the open fire. It is usually much worse with pine than with a hardwood. Having done much of my camping in the piney woods of East Texas, pine was a quite common fire material to use. And, as you can see from the picture, it would leave the pots and pans black.

That might not have been much of a problem except someone usually had the bright idea that the pots and pans needed to look new on the outside. It wasn’t going to happen. No matter how much scrubbing you did, there would be black that just wouldn’t come off. There were tricks that made things easier. There were ways to get much of the black off, but all of it? No way!

Sometimes it seemed like my patrol leader or some adult who was in camp with us would insist that the black is taken off. It sometimes seemed as though that adult was far more interested in the outside of the pot than with the inside where the food would actually touch.

It is just this Jesus is talking about in our lesson. What difference does it make if the outside of a cup or plate is clean if the eating surface has food stuck to it if that cup or plate is unclean on the inside?

For a people who were obsessed with being “clean,” these Pharisees and legal experts certainly fell short in Jesus’ when it came to cleaning up after dinner. What Jesus is actually doing is using the dishes as a metaphor for them and even for us.

We can look good. You can dress in the finest clothes. You can get your clothes tailor made. You can wear a $300 pair of shoes and a $500 suit. You may look really good. You may even impress some people with how good you look. But, if you are a rotten person, if you forget to live out the justice, peace, and faith we talked about yesterday, all the first class clothes in the world will not change you from a rotten person into a righteous person. For that, there is a need for a heart transplant, not from a doctor but from the Great Physician.

Do your insides match your outsides?

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Joy and Thanksgiving,
Keith

Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Author:

"The Pastor Ponders" is my attempt to share some of my thoughts. I often share what I am thinking with my dog "Bishop," but he keeps his thoughts to himself. He will even go to sleep sometimes while I am sharing my thoughts with him. The truth is, if it doesn't involve getting his ears scratched, his belly rubbed or some kind of treat, he really doesn't care. I will say this for him, he never argues with me or tells me I am wrong. So, I decided to share some of my thoughts with whoever might come across this blog in their ramblings around the Internet. Bishop and I live in Sweeny, Texas where I am the pastor of First United Methodist Church. I have served here for the past two years. For the past 27 years I have served United Methodist congregations throughout East Texas including rural Madison County (Elwood UMC), Lovelady (First UMC) and Kennard (Center Hill UMC), Canton (First UMC), rural Smith County (Mt. Sylvan UMC and Union Chapel UMC), Grapeland (First UMC), Tyler (Pleasant Retreat UMC), Santa Fe (Aldersgate UMC), Freeport (First UMC) and Oyster Creek (Oyster Creek UMC), Diboll (First UMC), and now Sweeny (First UMC). My wife Cindy and I have been married for over 40 years. We have two grown sons. Wayne and his wife Nikki and all our grandsons (Kaleb, Noah, and Jaxon) live in Southern California. Christopher and his wife Morgan and both our granddaughters (Jenna and Natalie) live in Tyler Texas. I enjoy preaching and all aspects of preaching from research to writing to the actual preaching event. I also love writing, reading, playing the guitar as well as a bit of drawing. I have spent quite a bit of time over the past two years working with paracord on various projects, mostly prayer ropes I usually give away. I sing bass with a local barbershop chorus called The Coastalaires. I have also recently begun doing a little wood carving. I also enjoy playing with Bishop, something he likes a great deal better than listening to my thoughts. I hold an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Business Data Processing, specializing in Microcomputers from San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas, a Bachelor of Science in Political Science with a minor in History from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX, a Master of Divinity from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX and a Doctor of Ministry from Carolina University of Theology. When I was a student at Carolina, the school was in Iron Station North Carolina. They have since relocated to Manassas Virginia (Yeah, go figure, a school named Carolina geographically in Virginia). This blog is mostly devotional writing, but there are other things here too. Just about every week I will either post my sermon manuscript or a video of the worship service. On occasion, I will post something I see in society. Occasionally I write a short story, a poem, or a song and will post it here too. I will say this, my motivations for writing this blog are really selfish. I write it to get what I am thinking out of my head and onto something a bit more permanent. They say, after all, once something is on the internet it never really goes away. Still, I hope you enjoy reading it. And, should you desire, you can one-up Bishop and actually tell me what you think. Who knows, it might generate a bit of discussion between you and me and anyone else who might make their way here. With Joy and Thankfulness, Keith Sweeny, Texas May 2018

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