It’s clear. There’s no use denying it any longer. At my house I am a Pharisee. True confession. I prefer and prioritize order and neatness and breathable-ness. All external. All the things that are pleasing to the eye (well, my eye at least), but not needed for survival, like all the internal things like cleanliness that my dear wife focuses on to our great benefit and survivability (Thanks, Sweetheart!).

So, I get it. I get why it was easy for the Pharisees to fall prey to the temptation of being external-focused. Of making sure that what was seen was in tiptop shape, with all the laws scrupulously attended to, the right clothes, the longest prayer tassels, the floweriest prayers, the most ostentatious, intimidating presence wherever they went. Because that’s the easy part!

Having integrity, that is, corralling wayward, inappropriate thoughts, so they match speech, developing a heart motivation that is others-centered, matching actions, well, that is far more challenging. It is easy to ignore the importance of lining up with Paul’s instructions in Philippians 4:8 – “ .  .  . fill your minds with beauty and truth. Meditate on whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is good, whatever is virtuous and praiseworthy.” (VOICE) It is too easy to rationalize that thoughts don’t hurt anyone, forgetting that the wrong thoughts pollute the heart of the thinker. “A person full of goodness in his heart produces good things; a person with an evil reservoir in his heart pours out evil things. The heart overflows in the words a person speaks; your words reveal what’s within your heart.” Luke 6:45 VOICE.

Paul, in Romans 12:9-21, exhorts us to cultivate the priority of honoring. Honoring not just those who love us, are kind to us, include us in their circle, but also those who mis-treat us, who shun us, who are the bane of our existence, whose very names cause revulsion. Honoring everyone clears the way for us to love. Honoring brings the interior life and the exterior life into alignment. Honoring everyone creates a person of integrity. Honoring/loving will allow the world to see that we are Jesus’ disciples, convincing them that Jesus is who he said he was. Honoring/loving will build the Kingdom. Honoring/loving is our call to discipleship – balanced out by the weighty price Jesus paid to win us. PD

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