Imagine holding in your hand a fresh bright red apple. There is not a single blemish on it; the apple is perfect and you can’t wait to take a bite. Sinking your teeth into the fruit, you suddenly realize there is something dreadfully wrong. The inside of the apple is not nearly as appetizing as you first thought. It is actually rotten at the core. In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus didn’t discuss apples, but he did address things that on the outside seemed pleasing, but were much less so at the center.
Jesus points out the difference between putting one’s self-righteousness on display in order to be seen by others, and practicing spiritual discipline in order to be seen by God. God calls people to worship, pray, give alms and practice other forms of spiritual discipline. Jesus teaches that we should do these things in such a way that we may glorify God and grow in our relationship with him. Our Savior gives clear instructions about how to live as a child of God, so that unlike the rotten apple, our outward appearance matches our core of love and commitment to God.
Holy God; create in me a clean heart, and renew a right spirit within me. Amen.