Living in a house with four other girls has its' challenges. For example, there is almost no end to searching for items that have been borrowed by another member of the family. Shoes, purses, clothes, jewelry and make-up can at almost any moment be found in the room of someone other than the owner. For some unknown reason my things are of particular interest. About a month ago, three days in a row I went to put my mascara on to discover that it was not in my make-up bag. Since only one of my four daughters is old enough to wear mascara, the culprit was not difficult to figure out. However, I could not even located her make-up bag to retrieve my mascara. So I did what any good mother of a teenage daughter would do. I let her have the old container and went out and bought myself a brand new tube of even better mascara!
When I allowed Hannah to have my mascara, I did what came naturally to me and I was quite honestly rather proud of my fine Christian character. Afterall, I didn't even complain about it. Later, once I allowed God to talk to my heart, I realized that to be truly godly would mean allowing the other person to have the best I had to offer, not my leftovers. Hannah should have gotten the new tube. Maybe acting out of my impulse means I'm acting out of pride and selfishness masked in false humility and ungenuine selflessness. Ouch!
Today my reading is in John 19:1-22. This part of John details Jesus' meeting with Pilate prior to His release to be crucified. As I read, I became aware that there is three distinct parties in the passage who each acted out of their natural instincts.
- Independence - The Soldiers (Verses 1-3) - Pilate ordered his soldiers to flog Jesus. Flogging was a common form of punishment in which a whip oftentimes enhanced with various implements was driven into someone's back and legs. Beating someone's face and driving thorns into their scalp and brow (Verse 3) went far beyond what they'd been instructed to do. The soldiers were striving for independence. They likely rationalized their actions with the label of "enthusiasm for our job" but in reality their independence means they cared more about calling the shots than carefully carrying out instruction.
- Success - The Jewish Leaders (Verses 7, 12, 15) - The Jewish leadership did whatever it took to eliminate Jesus as a potential threat to their success. They even played to Pilate's desire to please his ultimate boss, Caeser, by implying that Jesus was a threat to the Roman empire. Jesus had never threatened anyone but they probably thought hey if some "white lies" were needed to eliminate their competition, who really cares? The Pharisees cared more about winning than doing what is right.
- Position/Power - Pilate (Verses 4, 6, 8-10, 12-14, 19) - Pilate knew deep down that crucifying Jesus was unmerited and wanted to free Him. The Jews knew the right buttons to push by implying that Pilate would displease Caeser if he didn't grant their request. Afterall, Pilate probably thought he was a good leader and he needed his job to feed his family. Pilate proved in the end that he cared more about keeping his powerful position than responding to his heart's passions.
On the surface, independence, success and leadership are all desirable. God doesn't see the surface; He looks far beyond that to the penetrating places of my heart. My actions can appear to be kind, loving, even generous but God's far more concerned with what's underneath my actions.
Jesus, today, may I take a penetrating look with You beyond my surface to my heart. I want my heart for You to overflow into an exterior that doesn't just appear godly but actually is.