I studied two years psychotherapy based on the ideas of the American psychologist Carl Rogers. For him, authenticity was one of the important characteristics of mental health. Authenticity means that the outside is the same as the inside. Just like I feel and think, I behave and speak. It is a quality which I like a lot.
Can we apply the same idea on our Christian life?
Jesus reproached the Pharisees and scribes that they were whitewashed tombs full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. The outside looked fine and glittered in the sun, but the inside, o woe. He reproached them also that they cleansed the outside of the cup but that the inside was full of extortion and self-indulgence. Apparently they were totally not authentic. There was a great difference between the inside and the outside. The outside was brushed up and was meant to be beautiful in the eyes of other people, but the inside was unclean. Jesus often warned people against their hypocrisy.
But it can be different. Jesus himself came with the solution: “Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also.” Matthew 23:26. We shouldn’t brush the outside, but the inside. It is there the work has to be done. And then the outside will become clean automatically. Our outward behavior is a result of our inner life. It is a result of what is in our heart. If my heart is clean, then my behavior will also become clean. But when I try to appear outward clean, then my heart will not become clean.
In the same way it happens in the psychotherapy which I studied. In that therapy the therapist works with the thoughts and feelings of people. If they develop and improve, then later the behavior will also improve.
“Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.” Proverbs 4:23. Our heart is the source of our life. Let us cleanse our heart en keep it clean all our life. Let us stay in contact with God, and let us pray Him that He will show us what lives in our heart, and what is still hidden in our heart. Let us cleanse our heart more and more from all sin that is maybe hidden inside it, so our heart will become pure as gold.
Does this mean that the outside isn’t important? No, the outside can sometimes show us a little bit of the inside. The outside can sometimes be like a thermometer for the temperature inside. Or like Jesus said it in Matthew 7:16-18: “You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit.”
What is important for me is written in 1 Samuel 16:7: “For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” Let us live to satisfy God, and not people. Because at the end of our lifes, it will be God who will reward us.