Spiritual Formation

July 15, 2022

Scripture Resource Passage: Matthew 23

Photo by Paulo Mu00e1rcio Dos Santos on Pexels.com

A disciple’s soul-ward journey, the move inward, occurs as our vital connection with God. Contrast this to the outward appearance, which can be faked. Others can be deceived by our apparent holy right-ness. Jesus explains that God’s focus is on “…justice, mercy and faithfulness” (Matthew 23:23).

Speaking directly to all listeners and using a very strong poetic metaphor Jesus directs, “First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean” (Matthew 23:26). According to Jesus, true inward spiritual washing precedes and impacts our outward lives. It is a mistake to assume the opposite is accurate. The flaw of “faking it until you make it,” is a harbinger of deception.

Faithful disciples don’t’ ignore Jesus’ perspective. To fool others is not always difficult. To fool ourselves carries the potential for missing his truths. To disregard the direct teaching of Jesus stirs the Spirit with horror as disciples fail in faithfulness.

One New Testament writer expresses the opportunity of spiritual progress with these words: “Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:4). Time examining your inward self, where God alone sees your motives and thoughts, is wisdom. At least, that appears to be a logical outcome of Jesus’ encouragement to us all.

Life Application Questions

Does your discipleship need a review this summer?

Discerning your spiritual strength: how, do you assess your fitness?

In addition to reading Scripture, what other resources do you find helpful in looking inward?

Thank you for reading. Comments and suggestions are always welcome.

Published by Andrew Simkins

Dr. Andrew Simkins provides spiritual direction for individuals and small groups through the regular blog posts found on this site. He resides in northwest Indiana with his beloved, along with nearby children and grandchildren who are the adornment of his life.

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