August 9, 2021 – We turn to the fifth woe in the list and it can be found in Matthew 23:25-26. In verse 25, Christ calls the scribes and Pharisees hypocrites again and gives his reason. He says, “For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.” Christ proceeds to say that they should first clean the inside and then the outside. He is, of course, talking more than just how to do chores while using the religious leader’s focus on ritual cleansing. These teachers of God’s word were fluent in the public diplays of their practice, yet Christ seeing their hearts, sees the inside of their illustrative cup. Like in the previous woe, they focused on the outward tithing while ignoring true faithfulness.
For one to apply this text for the Christian today, we cannot ignore the acts of many pastors revealed in the last couple of years. Prominent Christian thought leaders had an outward appearance of a clean cup but what was shown was the darkness inside. Some preached against greed and self-indulgence, only to be discovered to be deeply entangled in both. When I say discovered, I mean by those of us outside of their circles. It seems like a few of these circles did know that the plate was not clean but stayed silent for their own reasons. It is in these echo chambers that such sin festers and grows. Eventually, the truth comes out, and the fallout itself can be devastating.
What we must realize once again, fellow Christians is that we are simultaneously saint and sinner. Pastors are included in that truth, which is partially why I think a plurality of elders within a church is necessary. There are other steps churches can take to avoid abusive leaders, but I would point to the G.R.A.C.E project (Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment) for more information.
We must remember that to base our faith on how well we polish the outside of a cup, hoping the shine will stop anyone from looking to closely inside, is a recipe for disaster. The Christian must recognize their uncleanliness but are not left in that state. The Gospel is a message for sinners, like you and I. That is why we rejoice when we hear, we who are filthy cups and plates, that Christ died for us, and through him, we are forgiven.
Pastor’s Corner is a column from Pastor Wynter Sturtevant III of the Mariposa Reformed Baptist Church.
The Church has moved locations, services are now held at the Bootjack Stompers Hall (located at 4662 Morman Bar Crossing) across from the Mariposa County Fairgrounds.